DepEd to probe incident, trace person who caused panic at Mandaue City Central School-A A +A
Friday, March 8, 2013
WORRIED parents rushed to the Mandaue City Central School yesterday morning after rumors spread that a hostage-taking was taking place inside the school.
School officials had to calm down the parents, saying the school was peaceful and the pupils were quietly taking their final periodical tests.
School principal Rita Cabahug said a parent called her last Monday, saying there was a rumor that 100 children would be killed on March 7.
Cabahug immediately sought help from the police.
Benjamin Tiongson, administrative officer of the Department of Education Mandaue City Division, said they requested the police to secure the school, which has 4,379 students, yesterday.
But to avoid causing panic, they asked the police to visit the school in the guise of conducting an information campaign on drug addiction for Grade 6 pupils.
Some eight police personnel went to the school.
According to the rumor, the killing of the pupils would take place between 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Tiongson said.
Around 10 a.m. yesterday, an unidentified person called the Centro Police Station and reported that a hostage-taking was taking place in the school.
The story was reportedly picked up by radio stations, causing parents to panic.
By 11 a.m., about 200 parents, who came from different barangays, asked the guards to let them enter the gate.
School officials, however, pacified the parents saying the rumors were baseless.
Tiongson said school officials have been directed to form a committee to trace the source of the rumors. He said they expect the committee to submit their findings after a week.
“The rumors could cause mental anguish and psychological disturbance on the children,” Tiongson said.
Cabahug said they are not discounting the possibility that the source of the rumor is a school employee.
Cabahug said she immediately called the attention of all teachers after her conversation with a worried parent on the phone last Monday.
“We assured the parents we will enforce full security,” she said.
School officials met with the chief of Centro Police Station last Wednesday to discuss the threat and the security measures they should put in place.
Cabahug said she joined the security guards at the gate to make sure only the pupils could enter the school yesterday.
When she saw the crowd of parents outside the gate around 11 a.m., she checked the classrooms and she saw pupils quietly taking their exams.
Cabahug said some parents claimed to have received text messages warning of a bomb explosion inside the school.
The children were not informed about the threat so they could concentrate on their exams.
Cabahug said she implemented an ID system for parents and pupils last March. But she lamented not all parents follow the school’s security policies.
Cabahug said she enforced a policy not to allow anyone other than pupils to enter the gate but many parents insist on being allowed to go in.
She said thefts occurred inside the school before with criminals introducing themselves as parents so they could enter.
“Naay mga parents nga gahi og ulo. Dili gyud mu-follow sa school rules and policies (There are hard-headed parents. They refuse to follow the school’s rules and policies),” she said.
The school has two guards who report during the day and one guard at night. Cabahug said she plans to add one more security guard.
Tiongson said they have asked the police to have the school monitored by a mobile patrol every hour.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 08, 2013.