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Teachers, students in Masbate undergo psychosocial first aid

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- Psychosocial first aid has already been provided to teachers, students, and residents affected by a series of encounters between the Philippine Army soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in several Masbate towns two weeks ago.

This developed as the 9th Infantry Division formed Joint Task Force Sagip that renders psychosocial intervention to students, teachers and residents traumatized by the armed conflict between the two warring armed groups.

The affected individuals from Barangay Locso-an in the town of Placer; Barangay Gaid in Dimasalang town, and Barangay Villahermosa in the municipality of Cawayan, all in Masbate, underwent stress debriefing and consultation with doctors and psychologists. They were also provided with medicines, Roldan said.

“Due to the fear and trauma caused by the attacks, the Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) formed the Joint Task Force Sagip last March 27, which led the conduct of psychological activities together with other government agencies that provide assistance in Barangay Locso-an in Placer, Barangay Gaid in Dimasalang and Barangay Villahermosa, Cawayan, all in Masbate province,” said Maj. Frank Roldan, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the 9th ID.

TRAUMATIZED An Army soldier facilitates a session with children affected by recent encounters between the Philippine Army and the New People’s Army in Masbate. Psychosocial first aid has been provided for the victims to cope with the trauma they experienced due to warring forces. (Photo courtesy of 9ID)

Aside from psychological aid, TF Sagip distributed slippers to the students and relief goods to 500 affected residents.

The Department of National Defense and the Department of Education have earlier criticized the NPA for launching a series of attacks near schools in Masbate, traumatizing children, teachers, and residents.

On March 20, an encounter between government troops and communist rebels took place in Barangay Villahermosa in Cawayan, killing one soldier.

Two days after, another clash occurred in Barangay Locson-on in Placer town resulting in the wounding of two soldiers and a minor. The incident also led the nearby school to suspend classes. (PNA)


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