10th Infantry Battalion-Agila Division Deputy Commander, Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin says they will investigate the case of a suspected intelligence operative who is facing charges after molesting a student who is taking part in a protest action against the militarization of their school. (Robby Joy D. Salveron/davaotoday.com)

TAGUM CITY, Philippines — A top military official here said they will investigate a suspected member of the military intelligence unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who was accused of sexual harassment by a Lumad student in a protest camp in Panacan, Davao City.

“We are investigating this right now. This is a very serious allegation,” 10th Infantry Battalion -Agila Division Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin told Davao Today on Tuesday, July 11, at the Big 8 Hotel, Tagum, Davao del Norte.

Datuin assured that sanctions will be imposed on the suspect pending results of the investigation.

“Any abuses made by the military will not be tolerated. They are destroying the organization and the peace process,” Datuin said.

On Monday, the Save Our Schools Network issued a statement saying they believe Loreto Malbino is a member of the military’s intelligence unit.

Malbino is the suspect identified by a student who touched her breast when she was on her way to a portalet (portable toilet) near their protest camp along the highway in Panacan at around 8 pm on Friday, July 7.

A Grade 9 student of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Learning Center in Maco, Compostela Valley filed a case against Malbino on Monday. The victim was accompanied by her father.

Malbino, when confronted, provided conflicting answers regarding his true identity, the SOS added.

His inconsistent answers led to the suspicion that he could be an intelligence asset of the military, the group said.

The suspect, who introduced himself as a laborer working at the Department of Public Works and Highways could not present any identification card, the SOS pointed out.

The incident took place on the eighth day of the camp-out protest of Lumad students, teachers, administrators and parents of Salugpongan schools.

The Lumad students are appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to lift Martial Law and stop militarization in schools.

Teachers of MISFI Academy, another non-government school in Davao del Norte, also reported threats from the paramilitary group, Alamara.

But Datuin denied that there is militarization happening in any school in the area.

“I do not believe that there is at this point in time. We are protecting the communities, not per se the school,” Datuin said.

STTCILCI have 55 schools in Davao region which the Department of Education permitted to operate.

The SOS Network has recorded 66 cases of attacks against private schools catering to indigenous communities from July 2016 to June 25, 2017.

The cases include threats to school closure, military encampment, harassment, and intimidation. (davaotoday.com)

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