THE horror of seeing their teacher being shot was too much for a class of 31 pupils that they all decided not to attend their classes yesterday.

Other parents also feared for the safety of their children at the Binlod Elementary School in Argao town that they either decided not to send their children to school or accompanied them to their classes.

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The death of Grade 6 teacher Romeo Duran shook up the relatively peaceful barangay of Binlod, as barangay officials and social workers trooped to the school to assure parents and teachers that the shooting was an isolated case.

Binlod Barangay Captain Arnel Rubin said there was an urgent need to have the pupils, their parents and the teachers undergo counseling.

Though the Department of Education ordered teacher-in-charge Ingracia Alcain to continue holding classes, the incident made it impossible for them to proceed with the lesson.

Alcain, who handles the other Grade 6 section, said only 12 of her 50 pupils were present. She plans to move Duran’s pupils to her classroom.

The presence of social workers, barangay officials, police investigators and news reporters also distracted the students.

Josephina Dollison, Binlod Elementary School guidance counselor, said that she, too, had trouble sleeping.

Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos talked with Binlod Barangay Captain Arnel Rubin and sent social workers to look into holding counseling sessions for all 328 school pupils, their parents and teachers.

The Argao Municipal Social Welfare Office, led by head officer Flordeliza Butero, said Duran’s students badly need stress debriefing.

“Most of them refused to come back to class because whenever they would enter their classroom, memories of the murder are evoked. Some of them are also afraid that the suspects may come back for them,” said Butero.

Rubin said they just needed to assure those affected that the shooting was an isolated case and that Duran’s attackers are not returning.

But until they are appeased, Alcain hopes a police officer will be detailed in the school.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 public information officer Jaybee Carillo said that once they receive the report from their Argao office, they will be sending a team to the site to handle the students.

Rubin, for his part, said that in past activities held by the barangay, they did not even need police assistance because no trouble ever came to their village.

Duran was assigned to Binlod about a year ago. He rented a house near the school.

Police are checking reports of a dispute he had with his siblings, after neighbors heard one of them shouting at Duran sometime last month.

However, his siblings took offense at this and insisted that they already made up.

Melinda and Erlina Duran admitted some words were uttered but this was just a spat between siblings.

Both sisters wailed beside Romeo’s coffin while their brother Manuel stood beside them.

They also denied reports the spat was due to a land dispute, saying they were only slighted because they were having financial trouble while Duran asked them to leave the house he was renting.

Romeo’s niece Yen-yen said the siblings made up Thursday afternoon.

They believe Romeo had to pay a loan because he mentioned something about it but did not say whom he had to pay.

Pupils who were under Duran said he was strict, but only if the student misbehaved.

A 12-year-old girl thought the sound coming from the next classroom was just Duran banging on a table to call the attention of an unruly pupil. But the screams that followed made them realize something else happened.

A 16-year-old fifth grader, who was sitting outside a classroom waiting to be dismissed, said he almost bumped into the gunman.

At the Department of Education (DepEd) 7, Assistant Regional Director Carmelita Dulangon said their executive committee has proposed security measures for all public schools in the region, including the tapping of barangay tanods.

At the Capitol, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the Provincial Social Welfare Office will find ways to help ease the trauma of the students.

Capitol will also be giving assistance to the victim’s family.

The Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), meanwhile, has created an investigating team to look into the killing. CPPO Director Erson Digal said they now have a lead on the identity of the gunman based on description by students.

Digal said he told the team to give the investigation “top priority.” (With JKV/RSA and JTG)