TAGUM CITY— The Department of Education here in Davao del Norte urged the military to spare Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, a school for indigenous children in Sitio Nasilaban, Talaingod, in the armed conflict.
In a televised program Thursday of Davao del Norte’s Kapihan ng Kapitolyo, Josephine L. Fadul, schools division superintendent of DepEd Davao del Norte, said “Whatever your agenda are, leave the children and teachers out of your encounter.”
Fadul requested the military troops belonging to 68th Infantry Batallion “to move a little bit further so that the school will no longer be caught if ever there will be a crossfire again.”
Fadul’s statement came after Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in Sitio Nasiliban, Talaingod reported they were “harassed” by the government troops.
The IP (indigenous peoples) school administrators complained that government troops in Talaingod were “residing near the school and establishing patrol bases” which caused fear among the pupils and teachers and the disruption of classes.
Meanwhile, Datu Duloman Dawsay, spokesperson of the organization of Manobos, Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanugon, said “nothing has changed after the dialog because the military still resides near our communities and schools. Violations of human rights (have) never stopped.”
“The community is really disturbed of their [military’s] presence. We thought all the while that they will leave for good after the dialogue with them but their presence in our communities is steadily increasing,” said Dawsay.
Dawsay said that aside from the usual threats and harassments from the military, he is more appalled of military’s claim that the school is a “school of NPAs.”
“Our school is a legitimate school because it is recognized by DepEd. It is owned by a community of civilians who want nothing but to live peacefully. We are worried by the military’s assertion because it legitimizes their presence in our communities which will have an adverse effect to our peace and order,” Dawsay lamented
The Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center filed a formal complaint before DepEd Region XI’s office prompting the latter to investigate issues which were earlier denied by the military.
On Thursday, a dialogue brokered by the Save Our Schools Network (SOS) and Defend Talaingod held at the DepEd Davao del Norte office in Tagum City reached an agreement to pull-out the military troops from the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center and Butay Elementary School in Sitio Nasilaban, Talaingod.
The dialogue was attended by DepEd 11 Regional Director Nenita Lumaad, Army’s 10003rd Brigade Commander Col. Harold N. Cabreros, DepEd Davao del Norte Schools Division Superintendent Josephine Fadul, Education Supervisor for IPs Tito Benegian, Mr. Willy Lacatan,Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Davao Representative and representatives from Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center and the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation. –MART D. SAMBALUD/davaotoday.com