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Lumad 26 now need real rescue from police, priest implores

The Lumad raided and arrested by the police at a Roman Catholic retreat house inside a university campus last Monday now needs real rescue, a Cebu church leader said.

Fr. Nazario Vocales, Archdiocese of Cebu vicar and executive director of its Commission on Social Advocacy (COSA) called on the government to release the 24 Lumad and two teachers now under the custody of the police.

Vocales said COSA condemns the so called “rescue operation” by the Philippine National Police Regional Office 7 last February 15, adding what transpired was an illegal mass arrest and trespassing.

The priest said the incident was exacerbated by the police’s “terrifying use of force against the Lumad who reside in the premises of the University of San Carlos-Talamban as a venue for their Lumad Bakwit School.”

Vocales recalled that the victims were in a sanctuary provided by the church and with the blessing of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

“It was a fitting way to welcome last year’s “2020 Year of Ecumenism, Inter-Religious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples,” Vocales said.

Vocales urged Cebuanos to once again express support to the Lumad victims as he urged the police and government workers to resist orders that undermine human rights and dignity.

“They need our help and support once more as the safe space for learning and a sanctuary for the stranded was shattered (Monday) by terrifying and illegal acts,” Vocales said.

Police canard

Twenty-two students, two Lumad elders and two teachers were hauled off in what the police claimed was a rescue operation from a military training school inside the Talamban campus of the University of San Carlos.

No less than PNP chief Debold Sinas claimed that “some of the children told (police) investigators that they underwent some form of warfare training while in the custody of their handlers.”

Sinas and the PNP however were immediately rebuffed by a Cebu City social worker who interviewed the Lumad children.

“We won’t comment on that. The children never said that to us. Nothing about training to be child warriors,” Cebu City welfare officer Annie Suico told Philstar.com

“We interviewed all of the children. They said nothing about being indoctrinated. All their guardians taught them were reading and writing,” Suico added.

Denial of legal service

Meanwhile, Atty. King Perez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in Cebu said he finally was allowed to briefly talk with some of the Lumad in a police jail Tuesday afternoon.

Perez however complained that the police is making is making it difficult for lawyers to consult with the Lumad, saying they were made to wait for hours Monday afternoon, to no avail.

The police are being overly-strict on health protocols, Perez said, which is a “huge irony, given that they took the children and the elderly from the safety of a retreat house just to detain them in a crowded jail.”

Perez said they will try to secure the release of the Lumad today, Wednesday, if no inquest proceedings were held last night.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it is investigating reports of human rights violations in the incident.

“The (CHR) has already dispatched an investigation team yesterday…to look into the situation involving the alleged rescue of (the) Lumad children,” CHR spokesperson Atty Jacqueline de Guia said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘State terrorism ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino’

“Sinasabi po nila (pulis) na itong mga bata (estudyanteng Lumad) ay ni rescue. State terrorism po ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino… Dahil sa track record ng Pamahalaang Duterte, kailanman hindi ito naging kakampi ng kabataang Pilipino. [Kaya naman] hindi po tayo makapapayag na magpatuloy ang ganitong pang-aabuso laban sa karapatan ng mga bata.” Kim Viznar, Children’s Rehabilitation Center

Priests deny police story: ‘USC Lumad needed no rescuing’

Priests hosting Lumad students and elders denied the police operation inside a Catholic-run university in Cebu City Monday morning was a rescue mission.

Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) Philippines Southern Province Provincial Fr. Rogelio Bag-ao, SVD and University of San Carlos (USC) President Fr. Narciso Cellan Jr, SVD said they are seriously concerned and surprised that the police alleged the incident was a rescue operation.

“[It] came as a surprise that reports about minors being ‘rescued’ surfaced today. While COSA (Cebu-Commission on Social Advocacies) mentioned that some parents were coming over to fetch their children, it did not dawn on us that the parents’ visit will necessitate the presence of policemen,” the priests in a joint statement said.

Bag-ao and Cellan denied the 24 Lumad as well as two volunteer teachers forcibly hauled from a retreat house inside USC’s Talamban campus to a police camp needed rescuing.

“Here, no rescue need ever be conducted because the presence of the lumads in the retreat house was for their welfare and well-being, and all throughout, they were nurtured, cared for, and treated with their best interest in mind,” they said.

Both explained that their hosting of the Lumad was in support of the bakwit (refugee) school program of the Save Our School’s (SOS) Network, along with Archdiocese of Cebu’s COSA.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the closure and destruction of indigenous peoples’ schools since 2017, forcing hundreds of their students as well as their teachers to seek refuge in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao cities.

The priests pointed out that the four other schools within the archdiocese have hosted as many as 42 Lumad students, five teachers and three community elders (Datu) in the past two years.

The refugees were welcomed at USC-Talamban on May 11, 2020 where they were supposed to complete their modular schooling on April 3, 2020 after which, they would have returned to their respective indigenous communities.

The Lumad were forced to extend their stay since the Cebu City government imposed travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the priests said.

“After being locked down, the SVD Community has since sheltered the delegation at its retreat house, providing them with comfortable accommodation, and allowing them the use of its facilities for the lumad’s recreation,” Bag-ao and Cellan narrated.

The priests said that four of the delegates have since returned home after quarantine restrictions have loosened while more are scheduled to leave this week.

In videos and photos posted on social media platforms, the Lumad students were shown to have been roughly treated by the police during its operation Monday.

WATCH SOS’ LIVE VIDEO OF THE INCIDENT HERE.

Some were strangled from behind while some were handcuffed as they were hauled to the regional police camp.

‘NPA training inside a Catholic university’

In its News Brief No. 21-0261, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Visayas bragged it rescued the minors from a “child warrior training” inside the university.

“Twenty-one Lumad children were reunited with their parents two years after they were ‘recruited’ by community organizers in Davao del Norte and brought to Cebu City to undergo revolutionary training as future armed combatants,” the police said.

PNP chief Debold Sinas further alleged that the Lumad children belonged to a New People’s Army front based in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

“Police Regional Office 7 investigators are eyeing serious illegal detention, human trafficking, and violations of RA 9851 (IHL Act) and RA 11188 (Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict) charges against the arrested suspects,” the PNP added.

The police has yet to allow human rights lawyers to meet with the detainees, a full day after the arrests.

Lumad school children call for the release of those arrested in Cebu at a rally in Quezon City. (Photo by Jo Maline Mamangun/Kodao)

Demands for immediate release

The SOS in Cebu meanwhile called for the immediate release of the detained Lumad and their teachers, denying the students were coerced.

“The parents of the students provided authorization to the volunteer teachers to allow their children to join the Bakwit School. It is also the decision of the students themselves to take part in the Bakwit School,” SOS-Cebu said in a statement.

The group recalled the refugee schools hosted by schools and churches across the country were in response to the closure of 176 indigenous peoples’ school across Mindanao upon Duterte’s orders.

“It is then ironic for the police to claim to ‘rescue’ the Lumad when it is a truth that is widely known that it is the state forces that continuously harass and red-tag them. It is state forces themselves that continue to harm the Lumad,” SOS-Cebu said.

In Quezon City, the SOS Bakwit School at the University of the Philippines in Diliman led an indignation rally in front of the Commission on Human Rights along with indigenous peoples’ rights advocates Monday afternoon. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Paramilitary leaders’ death brings ‘deep sense of justice,’ Reds say

Hawudon Jomar Bucales’ death last Sunday brought “a deep sense of justice” to the people of the community, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in announcing it was the New People’s Army (NPA) that ambushed and killed the leader of the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani.

The CPP hailed the death of Bucales, calling him a mastermind of the brutal murders of tribal leaders and a school director in September 1, 2015 that later became known as the Lianga Massacre.

“The NPA unit in Surigao del Sur deserves the highest commendation. The Party and the Filipino people congratulate them for their success,” the group said.

“The broad masses of Lianga celebrate the successful NPA ambush. They feel a deep sense of justice with the death of Bucales,” it added.

A spot report by the Lianga police said the October 4 incident in Sitio Mamsapranon, Barangay Banahao also killed one Alberto Belonio Dela Peña and wounded paramilitary troopers Ronald Acevedo and Artemio Muldes as well as their companion Oliver Rosaldo.

A statement by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army said Muldes also died.

Bucales and party were on their way home on board two motorcycles from an Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) meeting in Barangay San Isidro when waylaid by the NPA’s Guerilla Front 19, the police report said.

A 25-minute gun battle ensued that ended when the guerrillas withdrew, it added.

Massacre mastermind

The CPP said Bucales played a key role in the murder of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) executive director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo in 2015.

 In a House of Representatives hearing on November 11, 2015, Bucales seemingly justified the massacre by accusing the award-winning school for Lumad children of brainwashing its graduates to later join the NPA.

“Siya ang naglalason sa mga tao…Iyan ang rason, kasi iyong mga graduate ng ALCADEV, pumupunta sa kilusan,” Bucales said.

 (He [Samarca] poisoned the minds of the people…That was the reason, because ALCADEV graduates later joint the [communist] movement.)

The murders prompted then Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, now the province’s Second District Representative, to demand the Magahat-Bagani’s disbandment, calling it a “monster created by the military.”

Senator Koko Pimentel and former Senator Teofisto Guingona III also called for the arrest of Bucales and other leaders of the paramilitary during a Senate inquiry on the massacre.

They were ignored by government security forces , however, allowing Bucales to roam free in Andap Valley, a mining hotspot of the country.

The CPP said a “people’s court” had previously been formed to try Bucales and others for the Lianga Massacre where the Magahat-Bagani leader’s key role in the murders were pointed out.

The group said Bucales ignored their summons and refused to stand trial.

Continuing threats against Lumad schools

The CPP also said Bucales’ Magahat-Bagani received guns, funding and publicity support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and mining companies operating in the area.

“He and his paramilitary group were being misrepresented as ‘NPA surrenderees’ by the 3rd Infantry Battalion in order to funnel funds for counterinsurgency into their pockets. Endorsed by the military, he was appointed by Lianga town officials as its Mandatory Indigenous Peoples Representative, the CPP said.

The CPP said Bucales has recently been issuing renewed threats against the leaders of the ALCADEV community school in behalf of the military.

“In recent months, the people of Lianga have been subjected to intense militarization, aerial bombings and gross human rights abuses, in order to break the people’s resistance to the further aggression of mining operations in their areas,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)