Lumad schools decry continuing attacks under Duterte govt

Attacks on Lumad schools remained vicious under the year-old Rodrigo Duterte government, up to 80 percent of reported cases happening in the President’s home region of Southern Mindanao, a network of Lumad schools reported.

Lumad schools continued to suffer threats, harassments, intimidations, vilifications, red-tagging and surveillance in the first year of the Duterte government, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in a report said.

SOS added there have been five incidents of extrajudicial killings related to the operations of the schools perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary units in the past 12 months.

“The Duterte government’s all-out war policy and subsequent declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao also resulted to intensified attacks against our schools,” Ramel Miguel, Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Assistant Basic Education Coordinator for Davao del Norte, in a statement said.

The bullet’s entry point on the pants of a Grade 7 Salugpongan student that injured him last June 20.

Last June 20, a paramilitary trooper named Rodel “Ang-angoy” Butanlog fired at a Lumad school in Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte, injuring a Grade 7 student on his scrotum, the network reported.

The incident is the latest in a long list of human rights violations against Southern Mindanao Region Lumad schools that include 65 other cases affecting 50 schools, 175 families and 1,630 students, SOS said.

“Troops of the AFP occupied our schools and terrorized ours teachers, students and community members,” Miguel said.

Extrajudicial killing, surveillance, closure threats, use of civilians as shields, destruction and divestment of school property, filing of trumped-up charges, illegal or arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and torture are among the other violations reported by the network.

SOS said the violations have been perpetrated by the 25th,  26th,  46th,  60th,  66th,  68th,  72nd,  and  the 84th infantry battalions of Philippine Army under the Eastern Mindanao Command of the AFP, along with the paramilitaries Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit and Alamara.

A comparative report released during the 4th SOS Mindanao-Wide Conference held last March 15 to 17 in Davao City said there have been 96 cases of human rights violations and attacks against Lumad schools in the last eight months of the Benigno Aquino regime while there have been 60 similar incidents in the first seven months of the Duterte government.

The damaged windows of a Salugpongan school indiscriminately fired upon by a CAFHU last June 20.

“(We) strongly condemn the grave and sustained harassments of STTICLCI teachers and students by state agents of the AFP, CAFGU and Alamara,” Miguel said.

The group also called on Duterte to immediately pull-out the AFP from Lumad communities and disband the Alamara.

“We demand that the AFP be held accountable for all the atrocities they have committed not only in Talaingod but in the entire island of Mindanao,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photos by STTICLCI)