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Paramilitary destroys Lumad school; leader invokes Duterte in attack

A paramilitary group destroyed an indigenous people’s school in Bukidnon Province last Wednesday, August 26, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network reported.

The Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy in Sitio Laburon, Brgy. Matupe, San Fernando was attacked and destroyed by around 50 members of paramilitary group ‘Bagani’, the network said in an alert Saturday.

The group said two teachers tending to the school farm were alerted by students at around 7:15 in the morning that armed men have trespassed the school campus.

The school—repeatedly accused by government forces as a New People’s Army training facility—is 15-minutes away from the farm.

The teachers saw the paramilitary group destroying the school buildings and tearing up textbooks.  

The destroyed teachers’ quarters. (SOS photo)

“The teachers were about to take photos of the incident but were threatened by the ‘Bagani’ leader Lito Gambay, who told them to leave as President (Rodrigo) Duterte will know about this,” the SOS said.

Students and community members cried out of frustration as their school was being destroyed before their eyes, the SOS added.

The two school buildings and teachers’ cottage was built in 2007 from donations by the European Union Aid for uprooted people.

The main school building after the attack. (SOS photo)

The SOS said the ‘Bagani’ paramilitary is under the command of the 89th Infantry Battalion Bravo Company of the Philippine Army which has set up camp in Brgy. Kalagangan, San Fernando, 30-minutes away from the school.

“The Save Our Schools condemns in strongest terms the unabated destruction and closure of Lumad schools in Mindanao. As of August 2020, around 178 lumad schools are now forcibly closed,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Another view of the destroyed school building after the attack. (SOS photo)

‘Itigil ang pangha-harass at interogasyon’

“Mariin kong kinokondena ang patuloy na military operations sa komunidad namin sa Lianga, Surigao del Sur ngayong panahon ng pandemya. Itigil ang pangha-harass at interogasyon sa mga tao sa komunidad ng Han-ayan at Km. 16. Matindi ang nilalabag ng pulisya at militar sa iligal na pagpasok nila sa komunidad.

Sa simula pa lang pagdating ng mga militar sa komunidad noong Agosto 2019, ginulo na ang maayos at mapayapang pamumuhay ng mga kapatid kong lumad. Nilabag din nila ang mga polisiya sa ilalim ng GCQ–walang naka-face mask at walang social distancing.”

Rep. Eufemia Cullamat
Bayan Muna Party
Manobo

Jo Maline Mamangun

Si Lisa at ang mga Lumad na bakwit sa panahon ng enhanced community quarantine

Nakapanayan ng Kodao si Lisa, isang grade 10 student ng Salugpongan School. Kumusta siya at ang kanyang mga kasamang Lumad na bakwit sa panahon ng enhanced community quarantine? Panoorin ang bidyong ito.

Bidyo nina Maricon Montajes at Joseph Cuevas

A timeline of the birth and attacks on Salugpongan schools

by Kene E. Kagula/Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines —

2003

The Salugpongan Schools started as a literacy-numeracy school for the Talaingod Manobo children. Volunteer teachers were facilitated by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).

2007

Salugpongan Schools were established as a formal learning institution aiming to provide basic education to the Manobo and was accredited by the Department of Education.

Its full name, Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI), was derived from its founders, the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land), an organization formed by Talaingod Manobo leaders.

They envisioned to provide the Talaingod Manobo and other IP communities free, quality and culturally relevant education. They said this is the “concrete expression of their collective effort” to defend the Pantaron Mountain Range in their ancestral territory.

2009

Salugpongan school administrators joined in the consultation held by the Department of Education (DepEd) for the creation of the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) framework.

The framework has become what is now the DepEd Order No. 62 series of 2011, or “Adopting the National Indigenous People’s Education (IPED) Policy Framework intended to be “an instrument for promoting shared accountability, continuous dialogue, engagement, and partnership among government, IP communities, civil society, and other education stakeholders.”

Salugpungan schools encountered the first red-tagging incident from the 60th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, as the DepEd presents evidence that Salugpungan was granted a permit.

2012

The STTICLCI received accreditation status as a learning center from the Sangguniang Bayan of Talaingod.

2014

Its very first campus in Sitio Dulyan, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, serving Kinder to Grade 6 learners, was granted Certificate of Recognition by the DepEd.

April — Due to the increasing military deployment and operations in Talaingod that has harassed its residents, the Salugpongan embarked on an evacuation, seeking sanctuary at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines’ (UCCP) Haran compound.

Dialogues went on and off for a month between local officials of Talaingod, Davao del Norte provincial LGU, Davao City LGU, and military officers that resolved the Manobo’s demand to pullout the paramilitary and soldiers.

November — The Davao del Norte DepEd division officer urges the 68th Infantry Battalion to spare the Salugpongan schools from military operations after complaints were raised by school administrators of soldiers “residing near the school and establishing patrol bases”.

2015

March — A fact finding mission in Talaingod in March confirms that military personnel were encamped in 257 households, two schools, a health center and a barangay hall.

July — The DepEd delayed the release of operating permits of the Salugpongan schools, which was released a month later after the Salugpongan community held a camp-in protest in the DepEd Regional office. Salugpongan decided to hold bakwit schools in UCCP Haran because of the attacks of the military and paramilitary.

davaotoday file photo

2016

January — A Salugpongan student, 16 year old Alibando Tingkas, was shot dead by the paramilitary Alamara in Barangay Palma Gil.

Amelia Pond, the Curriculum Development Officer of the Salugpongan Schools, and coordinator of RMP Southern Mindanao, was arrested during an RMP assembly in Cebu. She was arrested on a warrant bearing a different name allegedly of a New People’s Army member and was charged for murder. Pond was detained for 16 months, including a few months in hospital arrest following a spine surgery, before the case was dismissed for “mistaken identity”.

The Talaingod Manobos returned to their communities after President Duterte’s promise to act on their call to pullout troops in their villages. But later they found the military continues to encamp in their communities and schools.

2017

June — A Salugpongan teacher survives a strafing incident from a paramilitary member. The strafing traumatized the Lumad students.

July — Lumad schools camped out in “Panacañang” and at the DepEd regional office to raise public awareness on their continuing displacement, and urged the government to stop the attacks and red-tagging of their schools.

After his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte said in a press conference that he would “bomb Lumad schools” over allegations that they are built by the New People’s Army. The pronouncement forced students and communities to stay in sanctuaries while institutions such as UCCP Haran and UP Diliman hosted “bakwit” (evacuation) schools.

September 5 — 19-year old Salugpungan student Obello Bay-ao was murdered by CAFGU and Alamara members in the community of Sitio Dulyan. The suspects remained to be at large.

November 2018

18 Salugpongan teachers, and delegates of a National Solidarity Mission headed by former Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Party-List Representative France Castro was detained and charged with kidnapping and trafficking. The group was headed to help rescue the students and teachers the Salugpongan campus in Sitio Dulyan who fled after the paramilitary Alamara forcibly closed their schools.

The group, called “Talaingod 18” was granted bail as their case continues.

2019

July 8 — The DepEd Division released a memorandum calling for the suspension of 54 Salugpongan schools. The issuance was based on the recommendation of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. that accused the school of not following the DepEd curriculum and teaching “ideologies that advocate against the government”.

July 22 — The Salugpongan schools submitted a reply to the DepEd order, firmly denying all the allegations. They also questioned the agency’s issuance of such order “without following due process”.

September 2019

In defiance to DepEd’s order of suspension, the school continue their operations for its students, re-opening “Bakwit schools” in UCCP Haran, and in University of the Philippines-Diliman in Quezon City for this school year.

October 7

DepEd Region 11 issued its final resolution calling for the closure of all Salugpungan schools. It claimed the basis on their fact-finding mission that verified Esperon’s claims and cited other instances that the schools did not comply with DepEd standards and curriculum. # (davaotoday.com)

Chricelyn Empong, ang Lumad na Greta Thunberg

Tampok ngayon ang isang 16 taong gulang na climate activist na si Greta Thunberg mula sa Sweden. Ito ay dahil sa kanyang matatapang na mga pahayag hinggil sa lumalalang problema dulot ng pagbabago ng klima o climate change. Giit ng dalaga na dapat ay agarang kumilos ang iba’t ibang lider sa buong mundo upang solusyunan ang nagbabadyang tuluyang pagkasira ng ating kalikasan.

Dito sa Pilipinas, nananawagan din ang mga kabataang Lumad na protektahan ang lupang ninuno at ang kalikasan.

Isa si Chricelyn Empong sa marami pang estudyanteng lumad na napilitang mag-bakwit dito sa Maynila dahil pagpapasara ng gobyerno sa kanilang mga paaralan. Tulad ni Greta, naninindigan din si Chricelyn na dapat lamang na kumilos at lumaban hinggil sa pangangalaga sa ating kalikasan.

“Buhay ng buong mundo ang nakasalalay sa aming pagkilos ngayon. Hindi namin kailanman tatalikuran ang susunod na henerasyon gaya ng pagtalikod ng gobyernong Duterte,” pahayag ni Chricelyn.

Sa ngayon, nagaganap ang isang Global Climate Strike kung saan kabilang si Greta at ang mga kabataan lumad. Nagsimula ito noong Setyembre 20 at magpapatuloy hanggang Setyembre 27. Hinihikayat nito ang lahat na sumama sa mga kilos protesta upang igiit ang hustisya para sa ating kalikasan. Ito rin ay para itulak ang iba’t ibang pulitiko na magsagawa ng mga solusyon upang mapangalagaan ang kalikasan. (Video ni Jo Maline Mamangun/Kodao)

Lumad leader, mother of seven, killed in Bukidnon

By Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A Lumad woman leader is the 14th victim of extrajudicial killings against indigenous peoples defender in the province of Bukidnon.

The Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization reported that Bai Leah Tumbalang, 45, a Tigwahanon leader from San Fernando town of Bukidnon, was gunned down last Friday, Aug. 23 in Valencia City by riding in tandem gunmen suspected to be military agents.

According to the report, a witness claimed that two men riding a motorcycle was seen tailing the victim before she was shot in her forehead, causing her immediate death.

Kalumbay identified Tumbalang, mother of seven, as an active member of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpapasindog Tu Lumadnong Ogpaan (KASILO), a local Lumad and peasant organization in Bukidnon. She is also an organizer of Bayan Muna.

Tumbalang was reported to have received a death threats prior to her death.

Since 2011, Tumbalang and other KASILO members have been receiving threats to their lives as they lead the opposition against the deployment of paramilitary groups believed to be backed by mining interest in their communities.

Former KASILO secretary general Jimmy Liguyon was shot to death in that year by suspected paramilitary members after defending the ancestral domain from an expansion of a plantation project.

Kalumbay condemned the death of Tumbalang, whom they said is the 14th victim of summary killings of rights advocates in the province this year alone.

On August 12, Jeffrey Bayot, a KASILO member was also gunned down by motorcycle-riding men.

Four days before Bayot’s death, similar shooting incident also happened on August 9, killing another member of the group, Alex Lacay. #(davaotoday.com)

Court denies gov’t move to jail Satur anew

A Manila Court denied a motion by government prosecutors to jail journalist and former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo anew, saying Ocampo’s bail bond remains in effect until proceedings on a murder charge against him has been terminated.

In an order dated Monday, August 19, Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 said she finds no reason to issue a recommitment order against Ocampo.

“Plainly, the grant of bail to accused-movant Ocampo is not subject to any other condition, except that its effectivity is until the termination of the proceedings of this case,” Bunyi-Medina’s order reads.

The Court is hearing the murder charge against Ocampo for allegedly ordering the mass murder of at least 15 individuals alleged by the military as victims of a supposed purge by the Communist Party of the Philippines in the mid-1980s.

Ocampo has repeatedly said that the charge was laughable, explaining that he was still in jail in 1984 when government witnesses alleged that he gave the order in an underground meeting in Leyte.

In a motion to the court last June 12, government prosecutors argued Ocampo abused his provisional liberty when he was involved in the alleged kidnapping of Lumad children who fled their homes in Talaingod, Davao del Norte last November.

Ocampo, along with Act Teachers’ Party Representative France Castro, were charged with violations of Republic Act No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 before Branch 2 of the Tagum City RTC.

“This renders him unworthy of the temporary liberty granted to him,” the prosecutors said.

Ocampo (center) reads the order junking the government’s appeal to jail him anew. Jailed National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants Vicente Ladlad (left) and Adelberto Silva (right) look on. (Photo by Atty Kristina Conti/PILC)

Ocampo and Castro, however, said they did not go to Talaingod to kidnap the children but to show their support to the Lumad who fled Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod after elements of the 56th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army and the Alamara paramilitary band forcibly closed down their community school.

Through his Public Interest Law Center (PILC) lawyers, Ocampo said they were allowed to post bail after their arrest and the case is in a pre-trial stage at the Tagum City Regional Trial Court.

“The prosecution maliciously insinuates that accused Ocampo is already guilty of kidnapping and child abuse, while he is entitled to a presumption of innocence,” the PILC said in their oppostion to the government prosecutors’ move.

Judge Bunyi-Medina agreed with Ocampo’s lawyers, saying “[A]s admitted by the prosecution, said case is still pending before Branch 2 of the [RTC] of Tagum City, Davao del Norte, nor was it shown that a warrant of arrest was issued against him.”

The PILC said the motion by the government prosecutors is “politically motivated and legally baseless.”

“Ka Satur has weathered through some 12 cases – none of which he has been convicted in, all false and trumped-up,” the PILC said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Alert broadcaster thwarts ‘warrantless arrest’ attempts by soldiers

A former station manager of a Bukidnon radio station frustrated attempts by government soldiers to bring her to their military camp without a warrant.

Members of the 1st Special Forces Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines harassed former Radyo Lumad station manager Kristin Lim since Saturday, August 3, and even engaged village leaders to convince  her to give herself up, to no avail.

Soldiers on board a military truck arrived at Lim’s home in Damilag, Bukidnon at 8:30 Saturday night and “invited” her to their camp for “questioning.” They were led by a 1st Lieutenant Baquial.

Lim refused after Baquial failed to present a warrant of arrest or a “valid and clear reason,” the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) said in an alert.

The troopers, however, were back early Sunday morning, insisting that Lim surrender herself.

The RMP-NMR said the soldiers were using the same tactic they used in the so-called capture of civilians Gloria Jandayan and Gleceria Balangiao who were later presented by the battalion as fake New People’s Army surrenderees.

The soldiers later asked members of barangays council to help convince Lim to be “summoned” to the military camp because of “her knowledge of the Left.”

Lim still refused, the RMP-NMR reported, agreeing to a dialogue only in the presence of a legal counsel.

RMP-NMR added that Barangay chairperson Jun Torres eventually agreed with Lim and in turn told the soldiers that they can summon her at the village hall as long as her safety is assured.

Other members of the council and the homeowners’ association also demanded that soldiers stop visiting their village on board military trucks as “the soldiers make it look like they are pursuing a dangerous criminal or terrorist.”

Red-tagged

Lim was hired as Radyo Lumad station manager in July 2018 until its temporary closure in January this year “due to threats and harassments.”

Radyo Lumad was located in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, a community radio station focused on reporting on indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare.

The radio station was part of RMP-NMR’s Healing the Hurt Project with the European Union and the World Association for Christian Communication.

(Disclosure: Kodao Productions was hired as training partner of the Radyo Lumad Project.)

Lim said the radio station decided to temporarily close due to persistent threats and harassments against its staff.

Earlier this year, Lim was among those red-tagged in flyers distributed in Cagayan de Oro City along with lawyers, journalists, church workers, indigenous peoples’ leaders and activists. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

1st Manobo in Congress vows to defend Lumad schools, national minorities’ rights over ancestral lands

The member of the 18th Congress who probably has the least formal education took to the floor of the House of Representatives last Monday, July 29, visibly nervous but delivered the most powerful speech of the night nonetheless.

Neophyte representative Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna delivered her first privileged speech, vowed to defend the Lumad schools that are under attack by government forces, and called for the respect of the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination over their ancestral domains.

Cullamat apologized for what she feared may be mispronounced words, but she soon hit her stride and passionately delivered her seven-page speech.

“I admit I am one of the very few members in this hall who may have only finished elementary education and finds it difficult to understand English words or read them. I am living proof of the government’s failure to provide education for everyone because the nearest school from where I live is 20 kilometers away,” Cullamat said in Filipino.

A member of the Manobo tribe from the mountains of Barangay Diatogon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Ka Femia railed against the attacks on Lumad schools she helped build. She recalled how she witnessed the murder of her cousin Dionel Campos, her uncle Datu Jovillo Sinzo, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development’s (Alcadev’s) executive director Emerito Samarca on September 1, 2015.

“I was shaking, prone on the ground, while the soldiers and the paramilitary peppered us non-stop with bullets. I clearly saw how Dionel was ordered to lie on the ground by a paramilitary. I clearly saw how his brain splattered when he was shot,” Cullamat said.

“I embraced Dionel’s children as they wailed over their father’s lifeless and violated body.  I saw one of our elders, Datu Bello, bludgeoned several times that caused fractures on his legs and arms,” Cullamat added.

She also narrated how she saw Alcadev’s principal Samarca lying in one of the classrooms, his lifeless body bearing signs of torture. “His body was riddled with bullets, full of cigarette burns and his throat slashed,” she narrated.

Cullamat said the massacre was one incident that shows how the government regards the Lumad’s struggle to establish indigenous peoples’ schools.

“What pains me, Mr. Speaker, is that these horrible attacks are still being perpetrated in our schools, against our teachers, against our children. Not only do they destroy our schools, they file trumped-up charges against our teachers and supporters; they also imprison them,” she said.

“They disrespect, they burn the schools we sacrifice so much to put up,” she added, her voice breaking in pent-up rage.

Cullamat raises fist in tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the national minority groups. (Screengrab from HOR live feed)

Cullamat said that for many decades, the national minority had been deprived of basic social services, including education. She said they have been victimized by their lack of education, as well as the difficulty in obtaining them on the flatlands.

But the massacre goes beyond the government’s false accusations that the Lumad schools are disguised New People’s Army (NPA) training and recruitment grounds, Ka Femia said.

“That massacre was clearly meant to intimidate us into allowing coal mining in our ancestral lands. As a paramilitary trooper once said, ‘it would not have happened if we allowed mining,'” she said. But the Lumad of Diatogon have long decided to defend their land from environmental plunder, a decision that has cost them many lives and the existence of their beloved schools.

Cullamat said 15 coal mining, as well as palm oil plantation companies, are salivating over 200,000 hectares inside Lumad-Manobo communities in the Andap Valley Complex in Surigao del Sur.

Still, Cullamat said, they will fight for their schools. She said they persevered in establishing them and succeeded through blood, sweat, and tears and with the help of the church and non-government organizations. The schools taught them to read, write, and count.

“Because of these schools, our children are being educated in ways that are respectful of our traditions, culture, and our need to improve our lives, especially through agriculture so that we may prosper while we protect our ancestral domains for future generations,” she explained.

Cullamat also cited that many graduates of their Lumad schools have gone on to earn college degrees and have gone back to their communities as teachers, agriculturists, health workers and organizers. They have also become trusted advisers to their tribal leaders.

She added that her children studied in the Lumad schools and taught her and other adults in their communities to read and understand Filipino. “My dear colleagues, I now stand before you, speaking in Filipino, because of these Lumad schools,” she said.

The success of the schools in educating the Lumad have made them targets of harassments and attacks, the neophyte legislator said. She cited the recent decision of the Department of Education to suspend the permits of 55 Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Learning Center schools in Davao upon the prodding of national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

“Esperon accuses the Salugpungan schools of training Lumad children to become New People’s Army guerrillas and how to shoot or dismantle guns, as he accuses other schools run by the Clans (Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking and Services), Misfi (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.), Trifpss (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur), and Alcadev. All these are lies that are only meant to close down our schools and shut down our national minority organizations,” she cried, her voice rising in anger.

As an indigenous person member of Congress, Cullamat said she must report to Congress that the attacks against the national minority do not only happen in Mindanao. She said the Dumagats who oppose the mega-dam projects in Quezon and the Igorots who with the Chico River Irrigation Pump Project in the Cordilleras are also under attack.

“In spite of all these, the national minority would persevere in defense of our ancestral lands, the source of our life and livelihood,” she vowed.

“We will persevere in defending our schools for the education of our children. We will persevere in our quest for justice for the victims of human rights violations,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Army holds, harasses Lumad protesters in Surigao Sur

Nearly 200 Lumad are being held by the Philippine Army in Surigao del Sur to prevent them from participating in a rally on the occassion of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Tandag City today, human rights group Karapatan said in an alert.

The group said 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army soldiers in full battle gear put up a check point at Barangay Gamut, Tago town to prevent the Lumad from attending the local People’s SONA protests Surigao del Sur’s capital city today.

Rico Maca and 36th IBPA soldiers at this morning’s checkpoint. (Karapatan-Caraga photo)

Around 15 soldiers in full battle gear put up the check point and were joined by intelligence officers in civilian clothing and Philippine National Police officers, Karapatan’s Caraga chapter said in its alert.

The soldiers ordered the Lumad to alight from their habal-habal motorcycles and told to assemble on the side of the road from four to eight o’clock this morning, the group said.

Karapatan said the soldiers later called up controversial local Indigenous People Municipal Representative to the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples Rico Maca who arrived on board a white van after just 30 minutes.

Maca confiscated the Lumad’s identification cards and proceeded to check each from his book of photos of alleged New People’s Army rebels.

“Ah, nakaila ko ani. Mga pulang araw man mo! Mga rebelde mo! Solid na sila didto sa Purok 8 [Tambonon, Bolhoon, San Miguel,” Maca reportedly exclaimed. [A, I know you people. You are “red suns”. You are rebels. You are already solid here in Area 8.)

Maca was alleged to be connected to the paramilitary group led by a Hasmin Acevedo operating in barangays Umalag, Saigao, Caromata in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur.  He frequently joins patrol missions of the 36th IBPA that harasses Lumad communities in San Miguel.

He was among the three self-declared datus presented by Malacañan Palace to the media last September 2015.

Rico Maca (Second from left), with his fellow Malacañan-declared datus and their handler Arthur Tariman of the National Alliance for Democracy (Third from left). [File photo/R. Villanueva]

Photos and videos of the Lumad were taken and their names were listed in a military logbook, Karapatan said.

Many of the participants are still being held at the checkpoint while their motorcycles have been impounded, the group reported.

Progressive groups all over the country are conducting protest rallies against Duterte today. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.)