DAVAO CITY – A community-based school director was threatened by a tribal leader during a committee hearing to discuss military encampents in schools in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, a group said Saturday.

Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Incorporated (STTICLC) representatives held a dialogue with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Davao del Norte in Tagum City last Wednesday (March 11) to discuss the incidents of military encampments in its schools. The dialogue was also attended by the local government unit, military officials and the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network.

The school director of STTICLC, Lolita Muya, was reportedly threatened by tribal leader, Datu Lumangsad Sibogan after the leader said he could launch a “pangayaw” against the school official allegedly due to the entry of the school in the community without a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

Sibogan is a resident of Sitio Angelo, Barangay Dagohoy in Talaingod, a barangay wherein one of the STTICLC schools is operating.

“Lolit, ikaw, naa kay penalty sa among kultura. Walay FPIC sa imong eskwelahan kay wala ka niagi og NCIP, wala ka niagi og Council of Elders, mao ng penalty nimo. Pwede taka pangayawon! (You have a penalty to pay to our culture. You don’t have an FPIC because you did not pass through the NCIP, you did not asked consent from the Council of Elders. I can launch a tribal war against you),” Sibogan said, according to the SOS Network.

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 defines FPIC as “the consensus of all members of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples to; be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community.”

Muya belied Sibogan’s accusations before the hearing was adjourned, citing that STTICLC has been operating for a decade and has secured necessary documents from the government to formally operate in the Lumad communities of Talaingod.

“Our schools have been operating for how many years, we are already teaching grade 9 pupils. We have a complete set of necessary papers, even [Talaingod] Mayor Libayao knows about this,” Muya said.

“I am a Mansaka and ever since we never fooled our fellow Lumads,” Muya said.

Muya also said that the tribal leader’s statement is a big insult to their profession as educators whose advocacy is to provide quality education to those who are in the peripheries of the society.

“I am very disappointed that volunteer teachers, professionals like us, who sacrifice our time and effort are charged as deceptive against the Lumads by building alternative schools. Our job is not easy,” she said.

During the Talaingod Solidarity Mission by various peace groups last March 9-11, one of the school teachers of  STTICLC in Sitio Tibukag, Brgy. Dagohoy, Talaingod, reported that last October 2014, 30 military men including some Alamara and CAFGU came to their school and for 30 minutes, stayed while classes were going on.

“They surrounded the school building, threatened and alarmed the students and the teachers. Aside from their high-powered guns, one student narrated that some of the military men were carrying hand grenades,” said Ronnie Garcia Basic Education Principal Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. in a statement.

“Last October 11-17, 2014, a firing spree was staged by elements of the 68th IBPA and some armed members of Alamara camping in Nasilaban Elementary School of Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod. Teachers and students of STTICLC and of the Nasilaban Elementary school were traumatized resulting to forced suspension of classes for both schools,” Garcia said.

“The fear and anxiety of the students and teachers worsened especially after shots hit the Salugpongan schools’ rooftop and their goat shed. After the incident, students were evacuated to Davao City for psychosocial therapy” Garcia said.

Garcia added similar incidents happened again last January 25 and February 2 with the same group of armed men. (davaotoday.com)

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