Issue of October 1, 2017
Mt. Province

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Kabayan mayor rallies whole village to help distressed girl
by Jane B. Cadalig

It, indeed, takes a village to raise a child.

Kabayan Mayor Gideon Todiano wants stakeholders to work together and bring back to school the student who stopped attending her classes after she was assaulted by still unidentified suspects on her way to school in August.

Todiano asked the local police to coordinate with his office, the Municipal Social Welfare Office (MSWDO), the Department of Education, and concerned local and school officials and come up with measures to convince the grade 7 student of Adaoay National High School to go back to school.

The mayor made the directive upon learning about the student’s case during the joint Benguet Provincial and Municipal Police Office advisory councils meeting held in the town on Sept. 27.

During the meeting, Adaoay NHS teacher Lenilou Willie asked the local police for an update on the case involving the 13-year-old student who was referred to the station in August.

Kabayan Police Chief Francis Colas said his office is conducting follow-up investigation but added the police could not yet pinpoint a suspect.

Willie said the student has not been reporting since the incident, but the school had been reaching out to her through module type classes.

“She stopped going to school since the incident,” she said.

The student, Willie said, is from one of the remote villages of Kabayan and walks to and from school for an hour every day.

“She goes to school and home alone,” Willie said. The day the student was assaulted, Willie said one of her teachers noticed her wounded face. Asked what happened, the girl said she was attacked along the way by three males with bonnets.

“In her story, she said one of the three suspects hurt her, but she fought back and hit the suspect in the face. Our impression was that there was an attempt to sexually abuse her,” Willie said.

She said the school did its best to trace who could have inflicted harm on the girl, but to no avail.

“We really have no idea who did it to her. We tried looking for a student with wounded face in our school that time but we could not find any.”

Todiano said there is a need for stakeholders to give particular attention to the student’s case because her loss of interest in attending her classes was caused by an incident that might have caused her trauma.

“Let us do something about this because something happened to the child, which triggered her loss of interest in going to school. This is our responsibility. This case should not be taken for granted. By all means, we have to convince her to go to school. Let us assure her that she is protected when going to school,” Todiano told the police.

“It will be a great accomplishment for all of us if we are able to convince her to go back to school. Let us not allow the child to drop her class.”

Todiano wants a conference among the concerned barangay and school officials, MSWDO, DepEd, and police relative to the student’s case.

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