DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Attacks and harassments of indigenous people’s schools and communities have continued, the organization Save our Schools Network has reported.
The SOS Network said it documented 535 cases of attacks against Lumad schools under the Duterte administration, an average of one incident of attack every day.
The group has monitored the 72 Lumad schools in Lianga, Surigao del Sur; Compostela, Compostela Valley; Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and Sultan Kudarat.
As consequence of these attacks and harassment, some 2,000 Lumad students were not in schools.
According to Rius Valle spokesperson of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in Mindanao, there were new Army encampment in recent weeks in the schools in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat, in Compostela town, Compostela Valley Province, in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and in Agusan del Sur.
The SOS Network reported that on June 15 teachers and three Lumad families of Salugpongan Community Learning Center in Sitio Putting Bato, Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley were “instructed by members of the 66th Infantry Battalion to appear at their barracks in Barangay San Miguel, New Bataan on June 16 and were forced to “surrender” as New People’s Army members.”
Reports from SOS Network also noted that “around 30 soldiers have set up camp since June 12 seven meters away from the campus, and have been conducting this forced surrender operations on community members, including students. They also threatened students from enrolling in the Salugpongan Learning Center.”
On June 18 at around two in the afternoon, SOS Network also reported that military men from the 66th Infantry Battalion and several other armed men in civilian clothes accosted two staff of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC), a teacher and 11 students in Brgy. Mangayon, Compostela Valley and confiscated six sacks of rice intended for food sustenance of the schools.
According to Meggy Nolasco, the STTICLC Executive Director, “the military has been asking for first, receipt of the purchase of the rice and then after a few hours asking for PTO.”
On June 4, SOS Network said that members of 66IB headed by a certain Serano and Toto Canillas allegedly gathered residents of Purok 25 Bango and “warned them that they will list names of families who sent their children to the Salugpongan school as this was violation of their “agreement” of “surrendering” to them”.
SOS Network reported that around 97 residents from Bango and Puting Bato, mostly members of the Salugpongan Parent Teachers Community Association were forced to surrender, resulting in the dropout of enrollees in the Salugpongan school.
On June 20, the SOS Network said soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion stopped a meeting of the Parents-Teachers Community Association at the alternative school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) in Hayon, San Miguel, Surigao Sur and brought the teachers to the Barangay Hall of Libas Sud to let them talk to the superiors.
The SOS Network said in its report that the PTCA members have been receiving threats since last school year “that if TRIFPSS continues to operate, their leaders and teachers will get killed.”
While encampment of soldiers were common among the alternative schools for tribal communities, it was in Sitio Zapanta Valley, Barangay Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte where some 122 families (550 individuals ) of the Mamanwa tribe evacuated on June 12. The soldiers just came from a military operation.
A statement released by Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong Oraganisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo-Caraga), some 70 families were forced to surrender and declare that they were active supporters of the NPA. The evacuees were brought to Little Baguio, Barangay San Roque in Kitcharao and they were told that a community assembly of the evacuees would be held.
“This is another tactic of the AFP to make the evacuees surrender and force them to declare to being NPA. The same thing happened to the Lumad Mamanwa and farmers in Purok 3 and 4, Brgy. Mahaba, Cabadbaran City last June 15, 2018.”
On June 15, SOS Network reported that soldiers from Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 (C) led by 1st Lieutenant Ilagan were looking for volunteer teachers of community schools run by Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, Inc. (CLANS) and said they have direct instructions from Mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia to close the school.
Around 40 soldiers were also reported to set up camp at a coconut grove, which is 20 meters away from the CLANS Lumad Community School in Barangay Datu Ito Andog, Sultan Kudarat.
According to Gem Alonzo of CLANS in an interview,” soldiers reportedly offered P100 to Lumad students to disclose to them the whereabouts of CLANS teachers.
“The repression and harassment of innocent civilians in communities, accusing them of being NPA and forcing them to surrender are intensifying. Fearing death, driven to surrender under threat of being arrested and jailed by soldiers, Lumad and farmers are forced to leave their communities to escape such tyranny, ” Valle said. (davaotoday.com)