Press Release
June 4, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) is seeking a Senate inquiry into the burning of the Pinagbayanan Elementary School in Taysan, Batangas at dawn on May 15, killing three persons and injuring 12 others who were rendering election duties.

In Senate Resolution 630 filed today, Pimentel asked the Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs to conduct the inquiry in view of the claim of two arrested suspects who belong to the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) of the Philippine National Police - Region 4 that they were hastily and probably erroneously, if not maliciously tagged as the perpetrators of the vile deed.

There is an imperative need to establish the identities of the culprits of the crime and prevent a miscarriage of justice that appears to be in the offing, he said.

According to reports, five unidentified malefactors allegedly appeared at the canvassing area of the Pinagbayanan Elementary School and caused the blaze.

One of the suspects allegedly entered polling precinct 76-A and poured gasoline on a ballot box. Afterwards, the suspect fired his gun at the ballot box causing it to ignite, which quickly set the school building on fire.

High school teacher Nellie Banaag and poll watcher Leticia Ramos perished after they were trapped in the restroom of one of the burning classrooms. Another poll watcher, Guillermo Malaluan, died May 22 while undergoing treatment for severe burns at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila.

At least 12 others suffered serious burns all over their bodies and are recuperating in several hospitals in Batangas and Metro Manila.

Subsequently, law enforcers apprehended Police Inspector Robert Marinda and his assistant in the RSOG, SPO2 William Relos Jr., after they were tagged by witnesses as among five armed men who allegedly attacked and torched the school while the canvassing of votes was going on.

Also being investigated for arson are Taysan chief of police Chief Inspector Elpidio Ramirez and his deputy, Inspector Roel de la Cruz.

Marinda and Relos have strongly denied that they had something to do with the fire. Marinda said he was 11 kilometers away from Taysan town proper on his way home when he received a text message ordering him to proceed to the Pinagbayanan elementary school.

In seeking the investigation, Pimentel said there is a need to institute remedial measures to protect the integrity of the electoral process to avert election-related violence.

News Latest News Feed