Teachers lock horns with 'Pablo' evacuees

Posted at 01/04/13 3:57 PM

CATEEL, Davao Oriental - A tearful school principal sought the help of local officials as nearly a hundred families refused to leave the premises of Cateel National Agricultural High School where they have been staying for the past month.

"We understand their situation. We're people too and we feel their plight but it seems some of them have no plans to leave," complained Principal Portia Burgos.

"Early in the morning, I see people just pick fleas off each other's hair, and then they play cards. Some drink at the back, thinking no one can see," she added.

Cateel National Agricultural High School might actually be one of the only 2 schools left intact after Typhoon Pablo.

While other schools held classes in tents, teachers could not use their own classrooms because the school is still packed with evacuees.

The school nurse also got into a fight with the father of a family who now occupies the school clinic.

Evacuee Reynald Tinoy admitted that he used a machete to hack at a rubber boot in front of the nurse after she entered the clinic without his permission. Tinoy showed the boot and the machete to the ABS-CBN News team.

"She entered our house without permission. I would have allowed her but she said hurtful words to my children, saying we were difficult to talk to," he said.

"We just want to be treated with a little respect," he added.

Tinoy said he wielded the machete not as a threat but out of mere impulse because he was angry.

The school principal also complained of looting inside the school. She said people took more than a million pesos' worth of pots, pans, knives, blenders, electronic measuring instruments and other cooking tools in the food processing room of the school's home economics area.

All that's left, she said, are heavy equipment such as freezers.

Cateel Mayor Camilo Nuñez met with evacuees to ask why they still have not vacated the school. At the meeting, the evacuees said they did not have enough material to rebuild their homes.

One evacuee also said they felt they had the right to stay there because it was government property.

This made the principal rise to her feet, saying she knew for a fact that the evacuees had more than enough materials to rebuild their homes but continued to stay in the school to get relief goods. She clarified that the school was indeed government property but designated specifically for education.

After the debate, Nuñex ordered all evacuees to vacate the premises before Monday. The evacuees agreed but only after the mayor promised a fresh batch of construction materials and a roast pig (lechon) to celebrate their return to their homes.