SAN NICOLAS, Pangasinan: Local government and public school officials here appealed to the public to stop circulating unverified news about the alleged abduction of some students in various schools by heavily armed men believed to be members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
“The fake news reports are very alarming to us and some of the parents refused to send their children to school for fear that they will be kidnapped by the NPA rebels,” some teachers told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview on Monday.
The principal of Talongapor Elementary School in Santa Maria town where government troops and NPA rebels clashed on Friday belied reports about the abduction of their students, contrary to the reports circulated on social media and aired by Metro Manila-based radio stations.
Maxima Bandiola, San Nicolas school district supervisor said the fake news reports were still carried by social media as of Monday but this did not lead to suspension of classes in elementary schools here.
In an emergency meeting on Monday, Bandiola urged school principals to inform parents not to be afraid of sending their children to school because there are no NPA abductions in San Nicolas.
Bandiola said classes are proceeding normally in various schools in mountainous areas – Kulangew Elementary School, Bangar Elementary School, Sapinit Elementary School, Pastoran Elementary School and Puyao Elementary School.
“I hope it will be published in the national newspapers that there is no truth to the news circulating on social media so that [Education] Secretary Leonor Briones will not be worried about us,” Donato Balderas, Pangasinan 2 schools Division superintendent said.
Santa Maria barangay (village) chairman Rodolfo Mengua said this was the first time since his childhood that a gunfight happened between soldiers and rebels in their locality.
He, however, NPA rebels who are apparently based in Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, have been sighted by residents since 2015.
“People from our village who live in the mountains have confirmed seeing armed rebels in their area but they [rebels]have not disturbed the peace,” Mengua said.
Mengua also belied reports that Santa Maria is now infested with NPA rebels, calling them a fabrication, considering that no NPA campsite has been found in their village.
A checkpoint along the provincial road going to San Nicolas has been removed upon orders of the police provincial director, Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver-Lee.