Salugpongan Teacher Amelia Pond released after dismissal of trumped up charges

In the course of the outrage over the state of repression on International Human Rights Day, there is one cause for celebration — the dismissal of trumped up charges against Lumad school teacher Amelia B. Pond.

Pond, 65 years old and curriculum researcher for Salugpongan schools, was detained for 15 months on trumped up charges of murder before her eventual release last December 7, 2017.

The court’s dismissal of the case against her, as witnesses recanted their allegations, proves the falsity of charges filed against Pond.

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SOS urges DepEd to protect Lumad schools as peace talks collapse

The Save Our Schools Network urges the Department of Education to protect the Lumad schools in light of President Duterte’s proclamation of terminating peace talks with the NDF and the intensified military operations to come.

We join the Lumad students, teachers and parents in raising concern on the cancellation of talks as this signals the intensifying militarization in our communities and our perpetual displacement.

Time and again Lumad communities are not spared from military occupation and harassment since July 2016. There are 2,200 students and teachers in Lumad communities in Mindanao who were victims of harassment, and 39 Lumad schools that are forced to close down. Lumads are vilified by the military as sympathizers of the New People’s Army without proof.

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SOS Southern Mindanao Statement on Universal Children’s Day

On the Universal Children’s Day, the Save Our Schools Network Southern Mindanao reiterates its call for education officials to act now to protect the Lumad schools in Mindanao under attacks.

On this day, we call out the Department of Education to turn their words into action.

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World Teachers’ Day, support Lumad school teachers as catalysts for service and change

(This is a statement by the Association of Community Educators or ACE)

On World Teachers’ Day, we the Association of Community Educators (ACE), comprising of Lumad school teachers in Southern Mindanao, join the global community of teachers in recognizing the essential role of teachers in their contribution to the education of the youth for the advancement of the nation.

In the Philippine context, where illiteracy especially among the poor and the Lumad communities, the role of teachers is relevant yet deprived of support. Education, such as the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, is a tool for liberation. This is most true for the Lumad communities in Mindanao who have been deprived of basic services such as public schools and have also been victims of exploitation and discrimination.

With such vision, the communities worked with teachers, church people and non-government teachers set up the Lumad schools under the Salugpongan Community Learning Center and the MISFI Academy.

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Save Our Schools Network Unity Statement on President Duterte’s Threat to Bomb Lumad Schools

The Save Our Schools (SOS) network, a network of children’s rights and human rights advocates advocating for the lumad children’s right to education and right to self-determination, strongly condemn President Rodrigo Duterte’s post State of the Nation Address (SONA) statement that threatened to bomb lumad schools in Mindanao.

We, in the SOS network, has actively campaigned against military attacks on schools during the Aquino administration where lumad schools in Mindanao were viciously attacked and somewhere forcibly closed due to intensified militarization. Lumad leaders and educators were vilified, threatened and killed. The massare in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015 wherein two lumad leaders, Bello Sinzo and Dionel Campos and ALCADEV executive director Emerito Samarca where killed and still has not found justice almost two years after.

When he was still a mayor of Davao City, President Duterte openly criticized the AFP who were using schools and other public places as posts or barracks. But his statement after his second SONA clearly contradicted his previous support for lumads and showed his prostration to AFP.

President Duterte  openly declared a war against lumad people. He, as the president, vilified and red-tagged lumad schools as schools of the New People’s Army (NPA). True enough, AFP trained, funded and armed paramilitary group Alamara harassed at least four lumad schools in Mindanao the following day.  Duterte’s statements were clearly taken  as a marching order by his lapdogs in the AFP, continuing and intensifying attacks on lumad schools, communities and peoples. Continue reading Save Our Schools Network Unity Statement on President Duterte’s Threat to Bomb Lumad Schools

‘Dear Digong': Lumad children write letters to the President before the SONA

“Please end Martial Law”.

This is the common appeal from letters written by Lumad school children addressed to President Duterte before his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 24.

The Lumad children, mostly coming from Talaingod, Kapalong and Surigao del Sur, appeal to the President to lift Martial Law in Mindanao as it also intensifies the militarization of their communities and schools.

Duterte declared Martial Law in the Mindanao island on May 23 to fight the alleged ISIS-inspired Maute group spotted in Marawi City.
Some 300 Lumad students and parents are in Manila at a Kampuhan at UP Diliman to take part of the People’s SONA led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan which will raise issues on human rights violations happening in the country.

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Fierce attacks on lumad schools under Duterte’s first year

Almost one year into the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, we thought change had come for the Lumads who finally went home from the sanctuary of UCCP Haran to their communities holding on Duterte’s promise of peace.

But the lumads and their children still encounter the same threats that drove them out in the past three years.  The paramilitary Alamara has constantly harassed teachers and students in Talaingod and Alamara.  Soldiers have encamped in the schools of Salugpongan Community Learning Center and MISFI Academy all across Davao Region.

There have been 39 of these cases under Duterte’s first year in the presidency from July 1 up to the present.

Meanwhile, a senior school teacher, Amelia Pond of Salugpongan, was arrested last August and is facing trumped up charges of murder.

Continue reading Fierce attacks on lumad schools under Duterte’s first year

Salugpongan teacher survives strafing incedent

Salugpongan teacher Ramel Miguel survived an attack by a paramilitary Alamara member last June 20 in Sitio Nasilaban.

The suspect, Rodel Angngangoy Butanlog barged into the school and threatened Miguel after the teacher filed a blotter on Butanlog’s recent harassment against him. Angered, Butanlog fired indiscriminately.  Salugpongan students quickly covered Miguel and everyone ran for safety, but one student was grazed in his private part during the incident.

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For second straight year, Lumad students finish schools in Haran

For the second straight year, Lumad students got to finish one school year in the evacuation center in UCCP Haran.

Some 56 Lumad students, mostly from Kapalong, finished pre-school to grade six levels, and held a moving up ceremony Friday at the University of Immaculate Conception grounds, one of the schools supporting the Lumad evacuees.

“This is now our second graduation here in the evacuation center,” said Ricky Balilid, a lumad teacher of Misfi Academy.  He reiterated the call of the Lumads to pull out military troops and arrest paramilitary members who have caused their displacement for them to be able to go home.

Balilid said the children longed to go home since their parents have went home earlier this year through the Save Our Schools, PASAKA and Department of Social Welfare and Development, yet they opted to stay as school teachers have been targeted by the paramilitary Alamara.

Continue reading For second straight year, Lumad students finish schools in Haran

On World Teachers’ Day, freedom for teacher Amelia Pond raised

MANILA – The Save Our Schools Network calls for the immediate release of detained Lumad school teacher and rural missionary coordinator Amelia Pond in a rally in front of the Department of Justice in commemoration World Teacher’s Day, today, October 5, 2016.

The rally gathered lumad-children and students’ rights advocates who believed the arrest of Pond was illegal and an attempt by desperate elements from the military to vilify teachers who are serving the lumad communities.

Pond, 64, is a teacher for the Salugpongan Community Learning Center serving Talaingod and other rural-lumad communities in Mindanao. He has been with Salugpongan since 2008 and took part of the formulation of the national indigenous people’s education curriculum of the Department of Education.

Pond was illegally arrested last August 19 in Cebu City after attending a Rural Missionaries of the Philippines’ assembly. Her arrest was based on a warrant named after Adelfa Toledo.

Continue reading On World Teachers’ Day, freedom for teacher Amelia Pond raised