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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)

4 missing teachers in Philippine Army custody

A Church group said its four volunteer teachers missing since November 12 were abducted and are being detained by government soldiers in Lanao del Sur.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) today said Philippine Army troopers illegally arrested and are detaining literacy-numeracy volunteer teachers Tema Namatidong (28), Julius Torregosa (30), Ariel Barluado (22) and Giovanni Solomon (30).

Citing reports from its Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (NMR) office, RMP said that the four teachers were conducting classes on agriculture and community beautification when soldiers belonging to the 51st and 81st Infantry Battallions on board four military trucks arrived at Sitio Babalayan, Barangay Durongan, Tagoloan 2, Lanao del Sur, morning of November 12.

The soldiers were said to be looking for Sultan Jamla and Datu Langi who are community leaders in the area.

From then on, the volunteers went missing and cannot be contacted, RMP said.

On November 27, 2018, RMP-NMR and the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Iligan City were able to contact Corporal Rico Ordaneza of the 103rd Infantry Brigade who confirmed that the four are in his unit’s custody.

“We demand the immediate release of our volunteer teachers. They have been in the custody of the 103rd Brigade for 15 days– more than the prescribed number of days allowed by law that police/military personnel can detain suspected persons or persons of interests without cases filed before them,” Sr. Elenita Belardo, RMP national coordinator said.

A mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), the RMP said its literacy-numeracy program in Mindanao is an effort to reach communities too far away from regular schools, and is implemented with the help of the community members.

“These volunteer teachers are helping the children of their own community. Not everyone can have the perseverance and dedication that they have. They should be treated with respect and admiration and not be harassed and persecuted, ” Belardo said.

The RMP said the incident is among the latest attacks against tribal schools, students and teachers that have intensified especially with the Mindanao-wide Martial Law still in place.

On November 17, Esteban Empong Sr., 49,  a member of a Lumad school’s Parents-Teachers Community Association was shot dead while asleep in a relative’s house in Kitaotao, Bukidnon while five students who are all minors were allegedly tortured by soldiers of the 19th IBPA while they were on their way home in Magpet, North Cotabato on November 18, the group cited.

The group also stated that that under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, one to two Lumad schools are being attacked every day with threats and harassments, military encampment, illegal arrest and detention, torture, destruction of schools, forcible closures and extrajudicial killings of teachers, parents and even students and among others.

“We demand an end to these attacks and we call on our friends from the religious community to denounce this latest arrest and echo the call for the release of our teachers. “ Belardo said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BI orders Sr. Pat’s deportation; lawyers to file motion for reconsideration

The Bureau of Immigration has ordered the deportation of Australian missionary Sr Patricia Anne Fox for allegedly violating the limitations and conditions of her stay in the Philippines as a missionary visa holder.

In a resolution received by Fox’s lawyers Thursday, July 19, the BI said Fox violated Commonwealth Act No. 163, otherwise known as The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, making her “undesirable” in the Philippines.

The BI said the nun, a member of the congregation Notre Dame de Sion and coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, “illegally engaged and interfered in Philippine political activities” in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The BI Resolution sent to Fox’s lawyers.

Last April 16, BI agents arrested and detained Sr Patricia Fox after she participated in a human rights fact-finding mission in Mindanao.

Fox and her lawyers explained that her defense of human rights and campaign for land reform are religious in nature.

The nun’s troubles began after President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened her with deportation earlier this year. The president has also repeatedly derided Fox in subsequent speeches, even calling the nun’s God as “stupid”.

Fox, however, gained support from many churches as well as strangers. The Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives later filed a resolution for her naturalization as a Filipino.

Motion for reconsideration

Atty. Ma Sol Taule, one of Fox’s lawyers, told Kodao they are considering filing a motion for reconsideration at the BI on Monday, July 23.

“[Fox’s] legal team is dismayed [with the BI resolution]. The BI’s decision is wrong, Sr. Pat has been doing her missionary work in the Philippines for the past 27 years undisturbed by any deportation case,” Taule said.

Taule added that helping the poor is not a risk to public interest, peace or order and that, in fact, the government must thank [Fox] for her selfless service to the oppressed Filipino people.

“Duterte has no basis to say that Sr Pat is an undesirable alien, unless his definition of undesirability is helping the poor,” Taule added.

The lawyer said the Fox’s missionary work with the poor is not defiance to the [Duterte] government but a firm solidarity to the poor and their struggles. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups hold testimonial for Sr Pat

As they awaited for the Bureau of Immigration decision on her deportation case, various groups held a testimonial for Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS for her nearly three decades of service to poor communities in the Philippines at the Baclaran Church compound last Saturday.

The Solidarity with the Poor Network, The Redemptorist Church, Promotion of Church People’s Response and the Lets’ Organize for Democracy and Integrity held a cultural solidarity program called “Journeying with the Poor” before a Mass and a Solidarity Agape. (Video and photo by M. Montajes)

The paramilitary versus the Lumad: A history of state-sponsored oppression

On the term paramilitary, the US Defense Department defines it as “forces or groups distinct from the regular armed forces of any country, but resembling them in organization, equipment, training or mission” (US Defense Department, 2010). There are different types of militia groups in the Philippines and they are classified according to the involvement of the central government and the military. “CAFGUs for instance, are embedded in the military hierarchy. CVOs are an unarmed component of the local defense organization but when used as police force multipliers, the CVOs are being armed. The paramilitary groups (sometimes referred to as vigilante groups) are also employed by the government for counter-insurgency work against separatist and communist armed groups” (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011).

Over several decades, the paramilitary groups in Mindanao have carried out torture, murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, looting of property, forced disappearances, and arson (Human Rights Watch, 2015; Karapatan, 2015; RMP-NMR, 2017). Yet a complete picture of atrocities remains elusive as many abuses go unreported as victims fear retaliation. In the second year of the AFP’s ‘Oplan Bayanihan’, there were 45 extrajudicial killings (EJKs), bringing the death toll to 129 under Aquino administration (RMP-NMR, 2016). Several attacks were directed at Lumad communities and their leaders who took a stand against the entry of large and destructive corporate entities with logging, mining, plantation, and energy interests in their ancestral domains. In a report by the Higala sa Lumad network, 7 out of 37 victims of EJKs are Lumad datus (RMP-NMR, 2016).

Lumad children suffer hardships during evacuations and demolitions, when they are driven from their homes (Vaishnav, 2017). In 2011 alone, 12 children were victims of extrajudicial killings, and at least 3, of frustrated killings—due to indiscriminate firing by soldiers, slay try on an adult companion, or at a violent demolition. Several children were also arrested during violent demolitions or accosted during military operations. At least four children and youths were tagged as “NPA child rebels,” while one was charged with violation to the Human Security. The same Lumad communities are forcibly evacuated in the countryside, as they sought shelter, either from bombings and aerial strikes, or from combat-geared “peace and development teams” and military-sanctioned paramilitary units that swoop down on their communities (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011). Lumad schools, a target of violent rhetoric and red-tagging by President Duterte who calls these as training ground for NPAs, have also been bombed by both state military and paramilitary groups. That is on top of the murder of Emerito Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV, who was found lifeless in one of the classrooms, hogtied with his throat slit in 2015.

During the Aquino regime, the Philippines was also put to task at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where at least 22 out of 69 countries called attention to the continuing cases of documented extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture. Several countries called for the prosecution of former military officials and the dismantling of paramilitary groups. Some urged the Philippine government to act on the requests of UN Special Rapporteurs to visit the country, to which the government gave a tentative response, lamely citing lack of funds (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011).

The perpetrators are identified military units, paramilitary groups formed by or closely linked to the military, and suspected death squads under the AFP’s command. Death squads—motorcycle-riding armed men, whether masked or barefaced—are still being employed to eliminate progressive personalities and suspected rebel supporters (Spear, 2015). Cases of Aquino’s executive order 79 served as marching orders to the Investment Defense Forces—the AFP, the CAFGU, and the paramilitary groups that are accredited as Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary (SCAA)—to clear the mining areas, and remove hindrances such as a resistant populace. In several instances, the military even tried to cover up by claiming that the civilian victims were NPA rebels killed in an encounter with soldiers.

The Murder of Lumad Datus

Over the years, Lumad leaders were recorded to have been killed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other state agents as a response to the unified campaign of Lumad communities against government atrocities.

On March 5, 2012, Jimmy Liguyon, 37, leader of the Matigsalog tribe and village chair of Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon was shot in front of his house by Alde ‘Butchoy’ Salusad, leader of NIPAR (New Indigenous Peoples’ Army)a paramilitary group. Salusad, accompanied by his men, even declared that he killed Jimmy because he refused to sign a certification for SANMATRIDA, or the San Fernando Matigsalog, Tigwahanon, and Manobo Tribal Datu Association. NIPAR had been terrorizing residents in barangays Dao and Calagangan since the previous year. On August 16, Alde along with soldiers of the 8th IB and the CAFGU, set up four gold processing plants known locally as ‘Bolmellan’. They also cut indigenous trees as materials in constructing tunnels for their mining operation. Prior to that, on August 2, Alde’s father Benjamin ‘Nonong’ Salusad, a CAFGU member, came with 20 of his men and ransacked the tents of Matisalog gold panners in sitio Kiranggol, Dao, looking for gold dust and money. The gold panners returned home sitio Malungon, Calagangan village, but Benjamin Salusad also threatened to kill Datu Malapong Nayan, the tribal chief of the Matisalog in Calagangan, and municipal chair the Lumad group KASILO, which the gold panners belong to (Environmental Justice Atlas, 2012).

Alde Salusad and the NIPAR men had also accosted other residents, taking gold dust and money at gunpoint. They touted their guns around the residents, and even fired shots at children. This has pushed 62 families to leave their villages in late August that year. Some residents went to nearby communities, while others trekked to as far as Quezon, the next town. Those who had no relatives elsewhere went and hid in the forest (Albasin, n.d.). On August 29, the evacuees travelled from Quezon, Bukidnon to the provincial capitol in Malaybalay City where they stayed for a few months only to return again in the next years.

Another tribal leader, Margarito Cabal of Kibawe was shot three times in the chest and once in the back, and was dead on arrival at the hospital. He was known for his firm resistance against the establishment of Hydro-Electric Mega Dam – Pulangui V project of the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (FIBECO) which have eventually affected 22 barangays of Bukidnon and North Cotabato (Lopez, 2012). Ten barangays of Kibawe have been affected, including his home in Barangay Tumaras. He campaigned and organized residents of the affected barangays to oppose the construction of the said dam.

On the same year, several Lumad villages in Agusan del Sur refused to attend an assembly where an agreement that would allow entry of the plantation companies would be signed. The assembly was initiated by Ben Hur Mansulonay, a leader of an indigenous paramilitary group controlled by the AFP in San Luis. Since then, the community’s datu were under threat. Datus Lauron and Lapatis also actively campaigned against the entry of large-scale mining companies in Valencia, Bukidnon. Datu Lapatis also reported several incidents of harassments from NIPAR and the 8th IBPA (RMP-NMR, 2016).

In December 2014, village captain and traditional leader Datu Necasio ‘Angis’ Precioso, Sr. was killed by suspected members of a paramilitary group working with the 26th IBPA in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Prior to his death, Datu Angis had been in an argument with M/Sgt. Andres Villaganas after the military called for members of the Banwaon community for interrogation. During the interrogation, Villaganas accused them of supporting the New People’s Army. In 2015, Manobo children and their families of Lianga, Surigao del Sur were forcibly taken out of their homes on September 1 by paramilitary group Bagani to witness the point-blank execution of tribal leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo. Same perpetrators also bound Emerito Samarca or Tay Emok, ALCADEV’s executive director, by the neck and limbs in the faculty room, then stabbed him in the chest and slit his throat open (Capistrano, 2016).

In September 2016, gunmen who are suspected to be part of paramilitary group Alamara killed three tribal leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur (Velez, n.d.). The same group was implicated in numerous attacks during the same year, including nine killings in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.

Paramilitary versus Lumad: Global Patterns

Colombia. The Katio and Chami peoples committed mass suicide between 2003 and 2004. The suicides took place at a time of extreme change, during which mining and logging companies depleted the jungles of animals that the indigenous peoples once hunted, forcing the once-nomadic Embera to form permanent communities. In this particular discussion of large-scale development projects, there was also reference to the impact of large dam projects upon indigenous communities in Colombia (Saab & Taylor, 2008).  Unfortunately, in this case, the human rights violations became so grave as to include forcible removal from homes and lands, destruction of property as well as assassinations and disappearances carried out by paramilitary forces (UNPFII, 2009).

Myanmar. Testimony of abuses by State-controlled military or paramilitary forces has also been repeatedly given. According to information received by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, members of the village of Tagu Seik, near Einme, were tortured and their community ransacked on the basis of purported communications with another armed opposition group (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2011).

Kenya, Guatemala, and Mexico. The general pattern that holds for indigenous women worldwide is their vulnerability to sexual violence. In areas of conflict, indigenous women often fall victims to abuse by members of the military and are subject to sexual enslavement, forced pregnancy, gang-rapes, sexual mutilation and killing. Historically, violence against women was used as a weapon in colonial conquests of indigenous lands, but as recently as the 1980s and 1990s, 1,400 indigenous Samburu women of Kenya were raped by British soldiers stationed on their lands. In the 1980s, indigenous women were targeted for rape as a weapon of war in Guatemala. In the 1990s, indigenous women in Chiapas, Mexico were subject to compulsory servitude in paramilitary camps (UNFPII, 2009).

The rest of Latin America. In 2003, more than 100 indigenous peoples and leaders were murdered and the indigenous community in Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria was forcibly displaced. In the last 15 years, as political violence has escalated, more than 2,660 cases of human rights violations have been reported. Reports confirm that indigenous peoples have been the victims of several massacres perpetrated by paramilitaries, the guerrillas and other armed groups. State-sponsored military activities have included aerial bombing of rural and indigenous communities. Thousands of indigenous peoples have been displaced, resulting in increasing populations of refugees in the neighbouring countries of Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Refugees have also fled to urban areas within Colombia where malnutrition and deaths due to hunger have been reported. Throughout the country, forced disappearances of indigenous leaders and representatives have been documented, as have reports of mass arbitrary detentions carried out by the military (UNPFII, 2009). #

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SOURCES-

-Albasin, G.C. n.d. Flashback Wednesday: Alde Salusad’s Victims. Cagayan de Oro, Philippines: Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies. Retrieved from http://www.miils.org/type/reports/flashback-wednesday-alde-salusad%E2%80%99s-victims

-Capistrano, Z.I.M.C. 27 January 2016. “Paramilitary Groups to Lumad schools: ‘all teachers, students will be massacred.’ Davao Today. Retrieved from http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/paramilitary-group-to-lumad-schools-all-teachers-students-will-be-massacred

-Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. July 2011. Armed Violence in Mindanao: Militia and Private Armies. Geneva, Switzerland: Author.

-Chambers, P. 2012. “A Precarious Path: The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in the Philippines.” Asian Security 8 (2): 138-163. Retrieved from https://library.xu.edu.phdoi.org/10.1080/14799855.2012.686254

-Defense Department – United States of America. 2010. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from https://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf.

-Environmental Justice Atlas. 2012. “Illegal Gold Mining and Killing of Anti-Mining Indigenous Leader Jimmy Liguyon, Mindanao, Philippines.” EnvironmentalJusticeAtlas.org. Retrieved from https://ejatlas.org/conflict/illegal-gold-mining-and-killing-of-anti-mining-indigenous-leader-jimmy-liguyon-mindano-philippines

-Karapatan. 2014. Karapatan Year-End Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines. Quezon City, Philippines: Author.

-Human Rights Watch. 23 September 2015. Philippines: Paramilitaries Attack Tribal Villages, Schools. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/23/philippines-paramilitaries-attack-tribal-villages-schools

-Lopez, A.D. 21 May 2012. “Stopping a Hydroelectric Dam.” Davao Today. Retrieved from http://davaotoday.com/main/politics/stopping-a-hydroelectric-dam

-RMP-NMR. 2016. Peoples’ Rights in the Peripherals: Lumad Rights in the Last 18 Months of President Aquino III.Iligan City, Philippines: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region. Retrieved from https://www.rmp-nmr.org.

-RMP-NMR. 2017. State of Unchange: Lumad Rights a Year into the Duterte Administration. Iligan City, Philippines: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region. Retrieved from https://www.rmp-nmr.org.

-Saab, B.Y. & A.W. Taylor. 2012. “Criminality and Armed Groups: A Comparative Study of FARC and Paramilitary Groups in Colombia.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 32 (6): 455-475. Retrieved from https://library.xu.edu.phhttps://doi.org/10.1080/10576100902892570

-Spear, L. 15 September 2015. “A ‘Civil War’ Is Being Waged Against Indigenous Tribes in the Southern Philippines, Rights Group Says.” Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4028811/philippines-lumad-mindanao-indigenous-military-war-killings

-UN Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. 2009. State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. New York, NY: Author.

-Vaishnav, P. 2017. “Child Protection and UNICEF’s Communication and Media Strategy: A Conflict-related Study from Mindanao, Philippines.” In Andersen, R. & P.L. de Silva (editors), Routledge Companion to Media and Humanitarian Action. London, UK: Routledge.

-Velez, T. n.d. “Alamara, the Paramilitary Gripping Davao’s Lumad Communities.” Cagayan de Oro, Philippines: Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies. Retrieved from http://www.miils.org/type/reports/alamara-paramilitary-gripping-davaos-lumad-communities

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This article was originally published by the Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies, a part of the Healing the Hurt Project of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region. This project is supported by the European Union.

Views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the RMP-NMR Inc and the “Healing the Hurt” Project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

Lumad community radio station launches at Sitio Sandugo

Under pouring rain, Lumad from Northern Mindanao launched their community radio station at the camp out of national minorities at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Quezon City Monday afternoon.

While waiting to be back home at the end of Lakbayan 2017 on Thursday, Lumad broadcasters held several programs throughout the day to mark their takeover of a Radyo ni Juan network station in Manolo Fortich town, now called Radyo Lumad 1575 AM.

 Many of Radyo Lumad volunteers who underwent trainings the past months are participants of the ongoing Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan (Journey of National Minorities for Self-Determination and Just Peace).

Radyo Lumad 1575 AM is the expression of the struggles of the Lumad who have been marginalized, discriminated, and oppressed. The radio is the voice of the Lumad in Mindanao that seeks to be heard,” the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR), project implementers, said in a statement.

Radyo Lumad is the country’s second community radio station operated by national minority groups after Radyo Sagada in Mountain Province launched in 2012.

“Through this radio station, the Lumad can impart their culture and foster understanding and dialogue,” RMP-NMR’s Healing the Hurt Project Officer Ailene Villarosa said.

Kalumaran chairperson Datu Jumorito Goaynon for his part said the station will amplify Lumad voices as they defend their ancestral domain from land grabbing and mining activities in Northern Mindanao.

Radio station by the Lumad for the Lumad

Radyo Lumad shall broadcast from Monday to Friday from five in the morning to five in the afternoon, starting with newscasts and commentaries at five to eight o’clock in the from the Radio ni Juan Network.

Regular programs by Lumad communities and organizations, local and regional organizations, and basic sectors in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions shall be complemented by entertainment shows throughout the week.

“Our new station is dedicated to Lumad stories, news reports, alternative music and advocacy songs for the Lumads produced by Mindanao musicians, and the traditional music of the Lumad communities,” RMP-NMR said.

“Aiding the work against the discrimination of the Lumad, live reports of cases of rights violations direct from communities and interviews with victims are also included in its programming. A specific segment will be allotted for interactive discourse on Lumad issues where questions from listeners via text messages or phone calls will be entertained,” the group added.

RMP-NMR said the station shall also target listeners from both urban and rural communities who have long developed socio-political prejudice and religious biases against indigenous peoples because of the usual negative information they get from dominant media groups.

Monday’s launch started with Lumad ceremonies as well as dances and songs, joined in by member of other national minority groups across the country.

While waiting for the Lakbayan participants to be back in Mindanao, Radyo Lumad broadcasts from UP with the assistance of the Radyo ni Juan station in Cagayan de Oro City.

RMP-NMR partnered with the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization and the Kodao Productions in setting up Radyo Lumad, with funding support from the European Union and the World Association for Christian Communications. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

AFP blocks humanitarian aid to Marawi evacuees

A humanitarian mission with 400 relief packs for evacuees was denied entry to Marawi City today by the military, its leaders announced.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan spokesperson and former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño said an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) checkpoint at the entrance to the city proper stopped the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission at around 8:45 today.

“We were told to turn back because the relief goods were supposedly not needed by the evacuees anymore,” Casiño said.

The mission, principally organized by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region, was scheduled to distribute more relief packs to civilian evacuees and meet with local government officials to know what other forms of assistance was needed in the war-torn city, he said.

Gabriela Women’s Party representative Arlene Brosas was among the mission participants.

Casiño said prior permission had been secured from Marawi local government officials and the military ground command through a Captain Clint Antipala of the Philippine Army.

He explained Marawi officials assured them beforehand relief packs are needed in the evacuation sites in the city.

“Local government officials later told us that under martial law, it was the military that had the final say on such matters,” Casiño said.

“Essentially, the military prevented humanitarian aid from reaching the displaced families in Marawi City.  This is unacceptable,” Casiño said.

He added that they are still seeking an explanation on the AFP’s decision. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photos courtesy of the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission)

 

Relief packs of food and medicine ordered to turn back by the military at the entrance to Marawi City.