Manila: The Department of Education has condemned the recent campus shooting in Pangasinan that killed four people and wounded three others, as it expressed concern over the trauma endured by students who witnessed the incident.

“We at DepEd (Department of Education) condemn all forms of violence especially as they occur in schools. We maintain that schools are zones of peace where the safety and well-being of students, teachers, and personnel are of utmost importance,” the department said in an statement.

On Monday, Police Officer 3 Domingo Alipio, reportedly opened fire while inside the Pangasinan National High School (PNHS) in Lingayen town in Ilocos Region killing four people — teachers Florenda Flores, Acidello Sison, Linda Sison and Jonalito Urayan. Three others were wounded.

Urayan was reportedly a debt collector who worked for Alipio.

The DepEd said that it would not allow such incidents to take place inside in an area that is supposedly secure from acts of violence in an act perpetrated by a person who is expected to uphold the peace.

“Our field offices are working closely together with other agencies and offices in dealing with the situation. We commit to foster a sense of normalcy by providing the necessary psychological interventions to the community of PNHS. We enjoin local authorities to persevere in ensuring that justice prevails,” the DepEd said.

The incident had been the bloodiest so far to take place within a Philippine school campus.

Alipio, who is assigned with the Anda Police Station, was an alleged loan shark — lending money to school teachers and others at usurious rates.

Superintendant Reynante Panay, officer-in-charge of the Lingayen police, was quoted in reports as saying that on the afternoon of September 1, around 4pm, Alipio barged into one of the rooms at the PNHS and confronted the three teachers about their unsettled debts.

“When the suspect couldn’t collect from Flores and from the teachers, the suspect got mad prompting him to go on shooting spree,” the state news agency PNA quoted Panay as saying.

Alipio was eventually apprehended by policemen from the Lingayen station after chase in one of the classrooms.

Panay said Alipio would be charged for the murder of the four victims.

School teachers in the Philippines, especially those employed by the government, have long suffered from low pay and are often preyed upon by loan sharks like Alipio. Worse, some of them are employed on a temporary basis and are not provided with job security perks.