Teacher: slain Lumad student ‘protected our school’

Sep. 07, 2017

Obillo Bay-ao (Photo courtesy of Save Our Schools Network)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — He once marched the streets, calling out the attacks against Lumad schools and communities. But now, Obillo Bay-ao is one of the names heard in the streets. He was 19.

Save Our Schools (SOS) Network spokesperson Rius Valle said Bay- ao was among the 200 individuals who sought refuge at UCCP Haran evacuation center in Fr. Selga St., Davao City last July, after they received threats from Alamara to burn the Salugpongan Lumad School in Sitio Dulyan.

The incident came after President Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools, saying these schools operate illegally and are teaching students to fight against the government.

Bay-ao also joined the massive evacuation of Lumad in 2014, 2015 and January 2016 when an alleged militiaman killed grade 3 student Alibando Tingkas in Sitio Pongpong in Barangay Palma Gil, said Valle.

In a phone interview with Davao Today, Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) Davao del Norte cluster coordinator Ismael Milez said Bay-ao was a grade 6 student enrolled in STTICLC in Sitio Dulyan, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod.

He managed to escape from the suspects despite sustaining serious gunshots. He was also able to narrate the incident to his neighbors and identify the perpetrators when he reached their village, Milez said.

According to Save Our Schools Network (SOS), Bay-ao, together with his father and 16-year-old brother, went to their farm lot one kilometer away from their residence. At 2 pm, Bay-ao insisted to go home early because of headache. When he was about 30 minutes away from Sitio Dulyan, “two armed men fired two shots that hit him at his back.”

He sustained multiple gunshot wounds, said Milez.

Bay-ao identified his killers as Joven Salangani and Ben Salangani, whom he described as “known members of the paramilitary group, Alamara, and Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in the area.”

Bay-ao was declared dead at Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City at 9:00 pm Tuesday night.

Responsible student

In an interview with Davao Today, STTICLC Sitio Dulyan campus teacher Marcial Rendon said Bay-ao with her father “secures the school.”

“He is one of the targets of the soldiers and paramilitary group Alamara because he and his family protect us [teachers] and the students since they live near the campus,” Rendon said.

The Bay-ao family would face the soldiers and Alamara every time they look for the school teachers and students, he added. “Even during dangerous situations, he doesn’t care as long as I could reach the school campus safely to conduct classes. I think that’s why he was being targeted.”

Lorena Mandacawan, Obillo’s aunt, said Bay-ao wanted to become a teacher to be able to help his family and his fellow IPs.

Human rights group Karapatan said Bay-ao is the 47th victim of political killings from Davao region under the current administration. (davaotoday.com)

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