Murad orders probe into shooting of Cotabato school children

Ferdinandh Cabrera

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Murad orders probe into shooting of Cotabato school children

WOUNDED KID. A wounded child, one of the students of the Pikit National High School, on a stretcher is being brought to a hospital in Cotabato province.

courtesy of Emna Sambutuan

UNICEF expresses concern over the recent violence against children in Pikit, Cotabato

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim has ordered a no-nonsense investigation into the February 14 shooting of school children in Pikit town, Cotabato province, while warning “peace saboteurs” against using the incident to start a religious feud.

Ebrahim expressed concern over certain groups which he said were trying to create a Christian-Muslim conflict in Pikit, a politically complicated area in the Cotabato province where around half of its villages voted to become part of the BARMM’s political territory.

He told a news conference in Cotabato City on Wednesday, February 15, that the Bangsamoro government was working to prevent a repeat of the conflict between Muslim and Christian settlers that emerged in the 1960s, which factored into the secessionist movement in Mindanao.

Ebrahim ordered a task force created last month to investigate the Pikit killings and the February 14 attack on the Pikit National High School students.

The police in the Bangsamoro fielded 83 of its personnel, including members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF), to augment security amid the series of killings in Pikit.

The attack on Tuesday resulted in the death of a 13-year-old 7th grader, Fahad Dianalan Guintawan, while his two companions, an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old, were wounded.

The United Nations Children’s Fund-Philippines deputy representative, Behzad Noubary, issued a statement on Wednesday expressing deep concern in the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting of students in Pikit.

“Conflict robs children of their life and childhood. Violence threatens children’s lives and well-being. We need to end violence. Children are zones of peace,” Noubary said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. condemned the attack and ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., to lead the investigation.

The Cotabato police said the attackers appeared to have used long high-powered firearms, and the group may have consisted of four people.

Two days after the gun attack, investigators have yet to determine the motive of the assailants, and they were still gathering pieces of evidence and statements from witnesses and survivors, according to Colonel Harold Ramos, the provincial police director of Cotabato.

Ramos said investigators have not even determined what type of vehicle the attackers used when they carried out the attack or if they fled on motorcycles.

Following the incident, Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan issued an executive order suspending all classes in the area from Wednesday until Friday, February 15 to 17, citing the series of shootings that have taken place in the town this month.

Residents of Pikit have expressed their concern and fear over the escalating violence in the town, and many have called for immediate action from the government.

UNICEF sounded alarm bells, pointing out that children continue to pay a heavy price in situations of violence and conflict.

In the Philippines, the Children and Armed Conflict report revealed that 67 children were killed and injured between January 2020 and December 2021. The United Nations has verified over 266,000 grave violations against children in more than 30 conflict situations around the world between 2005 and 2020.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, the Philippines has a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect, and fulfill the human rights of every child. –

Ferdinandh Cabrera is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!