By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Thursday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate the shooting incident at a remote village in Pikit town, North Cotabato province that killed a 13-year-old student and wounded two others on Tuesday.

Inatasan ko si Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. na pangunahan ang imbestigasyon sa naganap na pamamaril katuwang ang ating mga kasama sa (I assigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. to lead the investigation into the shooting that took place in cooperation with our colleagues at) DILG at PNP regional offices. Our resolve on these heinous crimes will not dwindle as we continue to fulfill our mandate to protect the Filipinos,” Abalos said in a statement.

Abalos also condemned the incident and said he is now coordinating with National Security Adviser Eduardo Año and Department of National Defense officer in charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for the identification and arrest of the suspects.

Hindi tayo titigil hanggang hindi nagkakaroon ng hustisya ang mga naging biktima at kanilang mga pamilya. Walang puwang ang mga mamamatay-tao sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. lalo na ang kumikitil ng buhay ng mga bata (We will not stop until there is justice for the victims and their families. There is no room for murderers in the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. especially those who take the lives of children),” said Abalos.

The DILG chief also expressed sympathies to the families of the victims and vowed to intensify efforts to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.

The fatality was a resident of Barangay Macabual and a student of the Pikit National High School.

Two of his companions, both 12-year-old boys, were wounded in the attack and are currently undergoing treatment at a hospital.

Initial investigation revealed that the three students were walking home at past noon when a gunman tailed them and shot them from behind.

The parents of the fatality quickly took his remains on the same day and buried him according to Islamic rites.

Police said 19 empty shells of a caliber 5.56 mm and caliber 7.62 mm were recovered at the crime scene.

The police said they have already identified persons of interest based on the account of the witnesses. (PNA)