DAVAO CITY, Philippines — In commemorating the second death anniversary of Salugpongan student Obello Bay-ao on September 5, Lumad groups protest on the inaction of government to stop the attacks on schools.
Speaking at a rally held outside the DepEd Region 11 office Thursday, Lumad leader Jong Monzon of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao said two years have passed and justice have not been served for Bay-ao.
Bay-ao, a 19 years old student of Salugpongan, was shot dead in Talaingod two years ago by brothers Ben and Joven Salangani, both members of the Cafgu and the military-backed paramilitary Alamara.
Monzon said the attack on Bay-ao symbolized their long search for justice that even the DepEd has failed to act on.
Monzon said advocates of Lumad education, have long been lobbying these documented “attacks”, such as harassments and threats against Lumad schools to the DepEd, asking to make an action to protect the students and teachers.
“But even despite the death of Obello Bay-ao, the attacks against Lumad schools remain unabated, and we have not yet heard any condemnation from the DepEd” Monzon said.
The family and officials of Salugpongan have filed a case to the Department of Justice against the suspect, yet no action was made.
“The perpetrators remain to be seen roaming in the community of Lumad in Talaingod, despite already having a warrant of arrest,” Monzon said.
The Salugpongan community said that attacks on schools have worsened, noted by the forced closure in Nasilaban and Tibucag campuses last November, and the trumped up charges on teachers.
Last July, DepEd suspended the Salugpongan schools based on National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon’s claims the schools are teaching “anti-government” materials and “recruitment grounds” for communist rebels.
“For the longest time, DepEd has failed to provide the Lumad with education, now it wants to shut down these schools,” Monzon said.
Monzon challenged DepEd to uphold the students’ right to education, recalling how Bay-ao dreamt of being a teacher for the community. (davaotoday.com)