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Police and Army reservists lie about Makabayan’s disqualification, fact check group reports

Police and Philippine Army reservists did not let up on its campaign against progressive parties seeking re-election in today’s polls.

The Facebook page of the Iloilo City Police Office and multiple Facebook accounts of Army reservists in Mindanao shared May 12 a post that falsely reported that the Commission on Elections has disqualified six partylist groups under the Makabayan bloc— Bayan Muna, Anakbayan, Anakpawis, ACT-Teachers, Gabriela and Anakbayan, poll fact checker Tsek.ph reported early Monday morning.

Tsek.ph said the post, published by the Facebook page Diego Pagbabago at 2 p.m. that day, appeared about four hours later on the Iloilo City police’s Pulis Icpo Serbisyo Publiko page.

The group said social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle identified six other Facebook accounts that posted the false claim as the 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion, Philippine Army; Ask Jay Lee; Joint Reserve Task Force “Metro Davao”; CMO 11rcdg; 1st Metro Davao Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion Philippine Army; and 1105th Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion Peace Keepers.

“Diego Pagbabago’s status states that six partylist groups were disqualified but its headline reads, ‘Comelec disqualifies five partylist, days before election,’” it added.

The full text of the post:

Disqualified. Yan ang hatol ng Comelec sa Partylist na tatakbo sana ngayong halalan 2019. Ang kadahilanan ng Comelec sa pagsuspendi sa limang Partylist ay dahil sa aktibo nitong pakikilahok upang pabagsakin ang gobyerno. Ang pagdisqualify ay ugat sa isang petisyon na inihain ni Angel Aguilar sa Comelec upang kanselahin ang rehistro ng anim na Partylist Bayan Muna, Anak Bayan, Anakpawis, Act-Teachers, Gabriela and Anakbayan Partylist (Disqualified. That is the decision of Comelec on Partylist running in the 2019 election. The reason Comelec suspended the five Partylist is they are involved in overthrowing the government. The disqualification stems from a petition by Angel Aguilar before the Comelec to cancel the registration of the six Partylist Bayan Muna, Anak Bayan, Anak Pawis, Act-Teachers, Gabriela and Anakbayan Partylist).

The Comelec has not decided the petition filed against the six groups on April 26 by one Angela O. Aguilar, Tsek.ph said.

Siegfred Deduro, vice chairman of Makabayan in the Visayas, said in a statement to the Iloilo media that the disqualification claim is not true.

“Our partylist groups remain (to be) legitimate candidates under the partylist elections and (they) maintain their high honor and prestige as gamechangers in the House of Representatives,” Deduro, former Bayan Muna Representative, told Tsek.ph.

Bayan Muna is among the top partylist groups in Pulse Asia’s latest pre-election survey.

The post is no longer accessible at Diego Pagbabago and the other accounts.

Tsek.ph is fact-checking project for the Philippines’ 2019 elections that counts the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University as its academic partners as well as media outfits. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

State forces disrupt psycho-social activity for Canlaon church workers

By Visayas Today

SAN CARLOS CITY – State forces disrupted a psycho-social activity organized for church workers in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental in the wake of the March 30 killing of eight persons there by police during what was initially dubbed an “anti-crime operation” that authorities later admitted targeted alleged communist rebels.

The eight were among 14 persons in all – including two barangay captains in Manjuyod town – who died during “Oplan Sauron 2.0,” which police said was the continuation of the original Oplan Sauron of December 27, that saw six persons slain, mostly in Guihulngan City, also in Negros Oriental.

Police claimed the fatalities were all communist rebels who supposedly fought back when officers served search warrants on them. But the account of the families of the dead, many of whom did not know and lived far from each other, indicated they were executed in cold blood.

Among those killed in Canlaon were the chairman of a local farmers’ organization that authorities have openly tagged as a “legal front” of communist rebels, a law minister of the parish and two volunteer church workers.

Fr. Edwin Laude. (Visayas Today)

Fr. Edwin Laude, pastoral director of the San Carlos diocese, said the activity was held at Canlaon’s St. Joseph parish church on Holy Wednesday to address the possible trauma of 12 church workers who had responded and reached out to the families of the slain.

While the activity was going on, he said, state security forces “in full combat gear” arrived at the church, saying they were there to “observe” what was going on but later “asking for the names of the participants and wanting to take their photos.”

The security personnel then said that “the next time any similar activity was held, we would need to ask the permission of the provincial government because psycho-social activities were part of medical missions, which are among the activities that need the permission of (Negros Oriental) Governor (Roel) Degamo to be held.”

Laude said they saw the disruption of the psycho-social activity by the security forces as a “threat,” stressing that “we are not hiding anything.”

Nevertheless, he added, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza “has already asked the governor’s permission to assist the families” of those killed in Canlaon.

Laude also said that the communities where the March 30 victims lived and died still “live in fear” because of the continued presence of military and police personnel in combat gear, raising concerns the violence might be repeated.

He added that security forces, mainly in civilian clothes, also continue to be monitored around the Canlaon parish church.

“It is like martial law, only worse, because this is undeclared, subliminal, scarier,” Laude said, as he called the state security forces “praning” (paranoid).

At the same time, he said the church and the families of the victims are skeptical that police pledges of an “independent investigation” of the killings would amount to anything.

“People don’t see this” materializing, adding that the church’s request to “include the accounts of the victims’ families and of other witnesses” has so far been disregarded.

The only investigation whose findings the families are inclined to honor, said the priest, is that of the Commission on Human Rights.

2 urban poor activists abducted

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
bulatlat.com

MANILA — Two urban poor activists were forcibly disappeared yesterday, April 13, in Bulacan.

The two urban poor organizers are Kadamay member John Griefen Arlegui, 20, and youth group Anakbayan’s Reynaldo Remias, Jr., 24.

They were accosted at gunpoint between 10:00 to 11:00 in the morning while posting posters of senatorial aspirant Neri Colmenares and partylist group Bayan Muna along Angat-Pandi Road, according to eyewitnesses.

Kadamay said in its statement that they were forced into a red car that bore no license plate by armed men in plainclothes, right in front of the Iglesia ni Cristo church in Brgy. Sta Cruz, Angat, Bulacan.
 
Kadamay’s chapter in Pandi learned of their abduction when they noticed the election sortie vehicle, along with their election materials, parked along the highway in the afternoon of April 13. The two, however, were missing.
                                           
Kadamay said they have already searched police stations in Angat, Norzagaray, Sta. Maria, and San Jose del Monte but were told that the two are not in their custody.

Arlegui and Remias were among the members of Kadamay who occupied the abandoned government housing in Pandi, Bulacan.

The urban poor group suspects that the abductors belong to the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Last year, no less than President Duterte ordered an elite police force to go against Kadamay, whose members were occupying government housing units. He went as far as ordering to have them killed should Kadamay resist a police takeover in the housing units.

This is not the first time for Kadamay members in Pandi to be subjected to rights abuses.

On March 26, 2019, two Kadamay members Marlon Acedera and Joel Chavez were illegally arrested when bullets were supposedly found in their homes within the occupied housing in Padre Pio Resettlement in Cacarong Bata, Pandi.

The two remain incarcerated as of this writing.

Kadamay national chairperson Gloria Arellano called for the surfacing of their two members.

She added, “we blame the Duterte regime for openly attacking the legal democratic movement with all the possible means in order to quell the resistance of the Filipino people against its anti-poor and anti-people policies.” #

14 farmers executed ‘Tokhang-style’ in Negros; Duterte’s MO 32 blamed

President Rodrigo Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 in November 22 deploying more soldiers and police officers in Negros Island has seen its bloodiest result last weekend in the killing of 14 farmers in three locations.

Philippine National Police operatives killed eight peasants in Canlaon City, four in Manjuyod, and two in Sta. Catalina town in separate but near simultaneous operations in Negros Oriental Province Saturday.

The Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights identified the eight Canlaon victims as Edgardo Avelino, 59, farmer and resident of Sitio Carmen, Brgy. Panubigan, Chairperson of Hukom (Hugpong Kusog Mag-uuma sa Canlaon); Ismael Avelino, 53 habal-habal (utility motorcycle) driver a resident of Sitio Carmen, Brgy. Panubigan and a member of Hukom; Melchor Pañares, 67, farmer, a resident of Sitio Tigbahi, Brgy. Bayog; Mario Pañares, 46, farmer (son of Melchor Pañares); Rogelio Ricomuno, 52, farmer, a resident of Sitio Manggata, Brgy. Masulog -1; Ricky Ricomuno, 28, farmer; Gonzalo Rosales, 47, farmer and a resident of Proper Brgy. Pula; and Genes Palmares, 54, farmer, a resident of Proper Brgy. Aquino.

In Sta. Catalina, habal-habal driver and peasant leader Franklen Lariosa and Anoj Enojo Rapada were reportedly killed.

In Manjuyod, among those killed were Velentin Acabal of Brgy. Kandabong and Sonny Palagtiw of Brgy. Pansiao, both barangay captains in their villages; Steve Arapoc and Manulo Martin.

Reports said 15 others were arrested, including local Gabriela leader Corazon Javier, who are now detained at the Canlaon City provincial police headquarters.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay cited Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 that placed Negros Island as well as Eastern Visayas and Bicol under a state of emergency for the continuing militarization of communities as well as the Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPO) or Oplan Sauron of the PNP in the region.

Palabay said Oplan Sauron is being implemented alongside the government’s counterinsurgency program.

‘Tokhang-style’

Negros police director P/Col. Raul Tacaca said the victims were suspected communist rebels linked to alleged assassination plots against government soldiers and police officers.

Tacaca claimed those slain fought back against arresting teams from the PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion, the PNP Special Action Force, regular police officers from various stations, and the Philippine Army.

In a press conference in Camp Crame Monday, PNP spokesperson P/Col. Bernard Banac echoed Tacaca’s claims and added the killings started as an implementation of search warrant for possible possession of firearms and explosive materials.

“We are sure that they really tried to shoot it out because our policemen will not use force if there is no threat to their lives,” Banac said.

“These were done by following the rules of engagement, respect on human rights and presumption of regularity,” he added,

But survivors of the police assault in Canlaon said the police arrived at about 2:30 in the morning, knocked once and kicked the doors open.

Victim Ismael Avelino’s wife, Leonora told human rights workers that all six police officers who assaulted their home “wore facemasks and others wore shades to cover their eyes.”

Victims’ survivors also said the nameplates on the police officers’ uniforms were covered.

Leonora said she and their four young children were ordered to lie face down and then later dragged outside of the house.

Next door, Edgardo Avelino’s household members were similarly forced to lie face down and were also dragged outside of the house.

Near simultaneously, they heard gunshots inside both houses. Nearly five hours later, at about seven o’clock in the morning, an ambulance came and Leonora’s husband was brought out of the house in a stretcher.

She found out later at the Canlaon District Hospital that they her husband Ismael was dead.

Edgardo, Hukom chairperson, was shot on his forehead, right cheek and upper torso.

In Manjuyog, survivors of Arupoc told human rights responders that the police planted a .38 caliber revolver beside his cadaver after he was killed by the police officers.

Calls for investigation

Various groups called for an immediate investigation on the incidents.

“This is unconscionable. We strongly demand an immediate and independent investigation on the incident…[W]e join our voices in the call for justice and accountability for these heinous crimes perpetrated by the government,” Karapatan’s Palabay said.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, whose diocese covers the affected towns, also demanded an investigation.

“We demand a quick investigation on this and appeal to our government authorities to restore peace and order,” Alminaza said.

The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) for its part said March 30 was a dark day in the country’s history.

“[F]armers who feed the nation have become helpless targets of bullets from the police and military, in tokhang-style operations, forcibly entering the homes and playing the ‘nanlaban’ (fought back) scenario to justify the riddling of bullets to victims,” the group said.

“As the nation grieves, we add our voices to the call for justice for our farmers and all Filipinos who have suffered under the culture of impunity and fascism in our lands,” CPA added.

Members of the Makabayan bloc in Congress also condemned the killings and vowed to seek justice for the victims.

“State forces are on a rampage and activists and critics are in their crosshairs. We will not take this sitting down and we will seek justice for the victims and file charges against the policemen and their superiors who perpetrated this massacre,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said.

Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao called for the scrapping of Duterte’s Memorandum No. 32, saying it is a death warrant on civilians.

The Commission on Human Rights said it has already ordered the regional sub-office of CHR-Region VII to investigate the killings. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Philippine Army holding Frank Fernandez incommunicado

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) strongly condemned what it calls the unjust arrest of another of its peace consultants and his companions last Sunday in Laguna Province.

In a statement, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili demanded that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) immediately release Francisco “Ka Frank” Fernandez and his companions “as a matter of principle, justice and humanity.”

“Frank Fernandez is a publicly known consultant of the NDFP in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as NDFP spokesperson in Negros,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said 71-year old Fernandez has been ill for some time had to come down from Negros for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and Gee-Ann Perez.

Where are they?

The NDFP said details of where Fernandez and companions are incarcerated are still unclear.

“This poses grave danger to their health and lives. It is incumbent upon their custodial units to forthwith present Frank Fernandez and his companions to their relatives and lawyers in order for him to receive his medicines and assure that their rights and well-being are respected,” Agcaoili said.

Philippine National Police Region IV-A director Chief Superintendent Ted Carranza told reporters Monday that Fernandez was taken to the Philippine Army Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City after the arrest.

“Well, alam niyo kasi itong si Fr. Frank Fernandez ay matanda na. I just talked with an officer from the Philippine Army, nag-complain siya (Fernandez) ng chest pain after his arrest. So he was sent to the army hospital for treatment,” Carranza said.

It was not known whether Fernandez is still confined at the said hospital as human rights defenders and public interest lawyers are still being prevented from seeing the detainees.

In his press conference at Camp Crame yesterday, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said Fernandez and his companions are under the custody of the Philippine Army’s Military Intelligence Group of Calabarzon reportedly based in Camp Eldridge in Los Baños, Laguna.

“With his unjust arrest, the Duterte regime runs the risk of adding another detainee to the list of three political prisoners who died in prison from June 2016, in violation of international humanitarian law and the minimum prison standards recognized by civilized nations,” Agcaoili said.

JASIG-protected

Agcaoili said Fernandez, a former Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Bacolod before becoming a rebel leader in Negros, holds Document of Identification Number PP 978544 as provided for in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) between the GRP and the NDFP.

Agcaoili also dismissed Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Junior’s claim that the JASIG is already inoperable in accordance with GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the peace talks in November 2017.

Agcaoili said JASIG’s termination requires a protocol, a move the NDFP said Duterte failed to follow with his unilateral termination of the peace talks through Proclamation No. 360.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel earlier said the GRP has not formally given them a letter of termination through the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, rendering Duterte’s Proclamation No. 360 moot and the JASIG still operable.

“So, no matter how many times President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally flip-flops from resuming and then terminating the peace talks, the JASIG remains in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated according to the terms of the agreement,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact the immunity guarantees of Frank Fernandez extend even after the actual termination of the peace talks,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Walang puntod

ni JL Burgos

Nais ko ring maglinis ng puntod katulad ninyo.
Makihalubilo sa mga kamag anak
habang inaalala ang mga panahong magkasama
ng nasa puntod na binisita.

Nais ko ring magalay ng bulaklak sa nitso.
alam kong kakaiba ang hiling ko
di katulad ng karamihan na hangga’t maari
ay walang nitsong pupuntahan.

Nais ko ring magtirik ng kandila
habang tumutulo ang luha sa lupa.
Pero wala ako/kaming puntod,
pinagkakait ang panahong magluksa.

Kadalasan ang puntod
ang sinasabing katapusan.
Pero minsan sa aming walang puntod
ang nitso ang simula ng katarungan.

Kami ay walang puntod.

-November 1

(Pasintabi kay Ipe Soco na may kahintulad na pamagat na tula. Dinukot ng mga militar ang nanay ni Ipe. Katulad ng kapatid kong dinukot na hanggang sa kasaluluyan ay di pa rin natatagpuan)

Free Satur and France; free the Lumad children

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the illegal detention of Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and other delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) in Davao del Norte since 9:30 pm last night November 28 by the combined elements of the 56th IB, Philippine National Police and Municipal Social Work and Development Officers.

CRC also denounces threats of Anti-Trafficking and violation of RA 7610 charges against the NSM delegation, after rescuing the Lumad people from further harassment of the army and ALAMARA in their community following the closure of the main school of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkakanon Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Dulyan, Davao del Norte yesterday November 28, 2018.

The escalation of military attacks on schools spread fear and paranoia among children in the schools of STTILCI and the Lumad communities in Mindanao.

CRC calls for the release of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep France Castro and the rest of the NSM. End Martial Law in Mindanao. Let the children study in their schools, pull out military troops from the Lumad communities. #

Charges against Satur and aid group has no basis–LODI

The Duterte regime has reached a new low with the filing of preposterous human trafficking and kidnapping charges against veteran journalist, activist and human rights advocate Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro as they were on a fact-finding to aid beleaguered indigenous people in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

The arts and media alliance, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity demands the immediate release of Ocampo and Castro and their 17 companions.

The charges are baseless, meant to cover up the truth: That it is the paramilitary groups Alamara and Magahat Bagani, commanded by the Philippine Army, that lay waste to Lumad communities. They should be the ones facing charges as they have killed Lumad leaders, shut down schools, and driven off communities from ancestral lands that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to business and foreign patrons.

Ocampo is a a columnist with The Philippine Star and chairperson of the Board of Directors of Bulatlat.com. He joined the 19-member National Humanitarian Mission that went to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring aid to the Lumad.

Ocampo and the rest of the mission accompanied the Lumad evacuees at the Talaingod police station to lodge complaints against the paramilitary group Alamara. To preempt the human rights case, cops concocted their lies.

The charge has no basis. The parents of 29 Lumad students provided written statements of recognition for the mission’s presence and purpose.

This afternoon, Ocampo and the others were taken to Kapalong District Hospital and eventually to the Tagum City Prosecutors Office for inquest proceedings.

We repeat: accusing Ocampo, who is all of 79 years old, of trumped-up charges of kidnapping and human trafficking is preposterous. We demand that the Talaingod PNP withdraw its charges against Satur Ocampo and he is set free immediately.

We warn the Duterte government that detaining an elderly journalist who is only acting on his convictions that are well within his rights would earn the greater condemnation of the journalistic community in the Philippines and the world. #

Talaingod PNP charges Castro, Ocampo and others with kidnapping

Davao del Norte police arrested ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro, former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and 17 other human rights defenders who tried to rescue 74 victims of forced evacuation in Talaingod town and are being brought to Tagum City for inquest proceedings.

In an alert, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said the 19 were illegally arrested and are being arbitrarily detained for nearly 18 hours already on malicious charges of kidnapping and human trafficking.

Members of the ongoing National Humanitarian Mission that included Castro and Ocampo rushed to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring food and other aid to Lumad civilians and students of the Salugpongan Ta Tano Igkanugon Community Learning Center in Sitio Sinilaban, Barangay Palma Gil.

Before reaching the community, however, they learned that members of the notorious Alamara paramilitary group under the command of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army forcibly closed the school and harassed students and teachers.

This forced the community to trek to Barangay Sto. Niño but were blocked by a combined army and police force.

On their way to meet the evacuees last night, vehicles used by mission delegates were hit with stones and their tires were punctured by spikes placed on the road.

At about 9:30 last night, the evacuees and mission members were taken to the police station in the area where they were detained.

Castro said they tried lodging complaints with the police but were told they themselves were subjects of investigation.

Earlier today, the police informed the group they are being charged with kidnapping and human trafficking.

The police convoy that took mission participants from Talaingod to Tagum City for inquest proceedings this afternoon. (Karapatan-SMR photos)

The police took the 19 to Kapalong District Hospital for a medical check-up prior to being subjected to inquest proceedings at the Tagum Prosecutor’s Office this afternoon.

Karapatan national secretary general Cristina Palabay condemned the police for levelling charges against mission participants, including a sitting legislator.

“Ocampo and Castro are being threatened with fabricated charges of human trafficking, when they and other mission delegates were there to provide support and aid to Lumad residents, including children, who are facing daily threats and harassment from the military in the community,” Palabay said.

Karapatan demanded the immediate release of members of the mission and the Lumad students and teachers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Another humanitarian crisis breaks out in Davao del Norte

A humanitarian crisis again broke out in Talaingod, Davao del Norte as dozens of Lumad students, teachers and civilians fled from their community and trekked under the rain last night in fear of government soldiers and paramilitary who forcilby closed down their school.

At least 79 individuals, including 29 students and 12 teachers fled Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod after the forcible closure of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning School (STTICLCI) as part of the 56th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army’s (56IBPA) military operations in the area along with the notorius paramilitary group Alamara.

The Save Our Schools Network reported that as of six o’clock last night, the Alamara forcibly padlocked STTICLCI’s Sitio Dulyan campus, forcing the students, teachers and residents to flee from their community.

About 20 Alamara gunmen were seen loitering around the school’s vicinity, harassing students, teachers and locals as of eight o’clock last night, SOS said.

Meggie Nolasco, Executive Director of STTICLCI, condemned the forcible closure of the school, noting that this is the most recent in a series of attacks against indigenous schools in Mindanao.

“The ALAMARA and the 56th IBPA are criminals. What they did is a clear violation of the people’s right to education. This criminal act perpetrated by State forces is unconscionable,” Nolasco said.

“These schools were built through the initiative and solidarity of indigenous communities to provide education for their children; their efforts deemed necessary on account of years of government neglect,” she added.

Salugpungan students being held at the Talaingod Police Station last night. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

Humanitarian mission attacked

The evacuees as well as members of the ongoing National Humanitarian Mission were blocked at Sitio Upaw and are being held by the said army unit, the Talaingod Philippine National Police  and the Municipal Social Work and Development Office at Barangay Sto. Niño police station since arriving at about 9:30 last night.

ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro and former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo are with the evacuees and refused to leave the police station until the victims are allowed to proceed to Davao City.

The mission wanted to bring food and other aid to the students after receiving receiving reports of the school’s closure by the military and Alamara.

Rep. Castro reported that their vehicle’s windshield was hit by a stone thrown by an unidentified suspect and gun shots were also fired while they were on their way to Sitio Sinilaban yesterday.

“Mabuti na lamang nakaharang ang windshield kaya hindi tumagos ang bato. At may nagpapaputok pa ng dalawang beses doon sa lugar namin,” Castro said.

Two other vehicles used by the mission suffered punctured tires due to spikes placed on the road, she revealed.

Castro added that when they tried to file a report with the Talaingod police, they were told that they will be the ones who will be subjected to an investigation instead.

“We are practically being detained here. What they are doing to us is already harassment,” Castro said.

Castro said that no one among those they contacted for help, including provincial officials and offices came to their aid.

The Lumad schools have been repeatedly maligned by the military and the paramilitary as schools put up by the revolutionary New People’s Army.

President Rodrigo Duterte also repeatedly ordered the indigenous peoples’ communities to close down their schools and leave their ancestral lands.

““Umalis kayo dyan, sabihin ko sa mga Lumad. Bobombahan ko iyan, isali ko iyang mga istraktura. I will use the Philippine Air Force,” Duterte said in a press conference after his 2017 State of the Nation Address. (Leave the area, I will tell the Lumad. I will bomb you, including the structures.)

The indigenous peoples in the area said the harassments they suffer are to pave the way for the entry of large-scale mining operations in their mineral-rich ancestral lands. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)