Rumors of an impending New People's Army attack on Isabela town in Negros Occidental, with Mayor Enrique Montilla as the target, yesterday morning triggered panic in the town and prompted some parents to pull their children out of classes in four public schools.
The police and Army in the town who were on full alert allayed fears saying the threat of an NPA attack was just a rumor.
Some classes at Isabela East, Isabela West and District 2 elementary schools, and the Isabela National High School were cancelled, Senior Inspector Ramil Sarona, Isabela police chief, said.
The parents were pulling their children out of their classes, and the teachers said they could not stop them from doing so, Sarona added.
The rumors of the threat of an NPA attack came from the East and West elementary schools but no one could say who actually started them, he said.
We have been telling Isabela residents not to believe unconfirmed reports, and not to panic, the police are on top of the situation, Sarona said.
The threat of an NPA attack came after 10,000 people crying for justice Saturday turned out for the funeral of slain Board Member Renato Malabor Sr. in Isabela, where he was mayor for nine years.
Malabor, 55, and his bodyguard Leody Jomilla, 52, were gunned down by a lone gunman on June 28.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. has alleged that the killing was politically motivated.
The Army and police have beefed up security in the town since the twin assassinations.
Montilla said the claim that the NPA was set to stage an attack on his town was just a rumor.
“Imaginations have run wild,” he said.
Montilla said there was no threat of an NPA attack but the police were on red alert just the same and were out on the road.
Life goes on in Isabela, Montilla said.
On rumors that he is the target of the NPA, Montilla said there are a million and one possibilities. He asked who would stand to gain the most by that?
On insinuations that the killing of Malabor was politically motivated because the board member planned to run for mayor against him in 2016, Montilla said he has lost three elections and he does not remember anybody getting hurt because of this.
Montilla pointed out that for the past year he has been very sick and almost died, and was even on a ventilator.
Sarona said he was not aware of the rumor that the NPA's target would be Montilla. The rumor he heard is that the residents of Isabela were alarmed because the Philippine flags in the town were hanging upside down with the red on top, that was a sign that the NPA would attack, Sarona said.
The claim that the flags in the town were hanging with the red side up was not true, Sarona said.
Col. Francisco Delfin, commander of the Army's 303 rd Infantry Brigade, said the army had one company in Isabela.
The Army has not monitored any NPA plans to attack Isabela, he added.*CPG
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