STANDPOINT: Italian priest calls for release of detained IP school teacher

Aug. 24, 2016

Statement of Fr. Peter Geremia, PIME on the arrest of Amelia Pond, a teacher and researcher of the Salugpungan Learning Center

Last August 19, Amelia Pond, a teacher and researcher for the Salugpongan Schools was illegally arrested in Cebu City after attending the national assembly of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines of which she was the regional coordinator for Davao.

Reports from fellow RMP members said she was on board a taxi when elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group blocked the car and forced her out.  She was shown a warrant which she was not able to read, and two IDs were planted in her bag. The CIDG claimed she was using several aliases and forcibly brought her to their headquarters. Later on it was shown that Amelia Pond was charged with murder and frustrated murder.

I condemn this action by the CIDG for forcibly taking a Lumad teacher and charging her of crimes she has no knowledge of without due process.  I have met Amelia Pond on some occasions and I have known for her serious commitment in developing the curriculum of the Salugpongan schools to better serve the Lumad children.  These schools are also being supported by the late Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio who was a board member of the RMP Southern Mindanao before he passed away.

Pond’s illegal arrest and false charges is a disturbing sign of the Duterte administration as it has promised change. While the peace talks are resuming this week, positive gestures are made from both sides such as the release of political prisoners and captured soldiers and police. But now we have a teacher who is arrested.  This does not bode well for workers for the mission to serve the lumads.

I join the call of the RMP and other church people to release Amelia Pond immediately and these charges be dismissed as it is fabricated and lacks due process.  I also urge the new Duterte administration to ensure the safety of lumad teachers as well as the lumad children and the evacuees who want to return to their communities.

Let us all work and demand for justice and peace for the Lumad communities.

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