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Salugpongan foundation visitors harassed by Alamara and police checkpoints

(Salugpongan students celebrating their foundation day and Bwalawan Festival with songs)

Last September 28 and 30, some 110 participants to the 11th foundation event of the Salupgongan Community Learning Center were harassed by the paramilitary Alamara and police.

Some 116 participants including students, teachers and parents were on their way to the school’s ceremonies in the Km 30, Barangay Dagohoy, Talaingod when they were blocked by the Alamara and the 68th Infantry soldiers at an army checkpoint at Sitio Daligdigon, Barangay Dagohoy. The participants came from other Salugpongan Centers from Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

Alamara leader Lumansad Sibugan insisted that the contingent had to get the permit from the tribal council before entering Km. 30.

The participants turned back and found another route to Km 30 later in the afternoon where participants held its sports festival and cultural activities for two days.

But on their way home on September 30, the participants were harassed again. A bus that was supposed to fetch the visitors was turned back at a military checkpoint. The contingent waited for hours amidst people suspected as soldiers approaching them and asking them questions and cornering a tribal chieftain for “interrogation”.

The contingent decided to hire jeeps to bring them home but was stopped by another checkpoint near Kapalong, the police cited various violations by the drivers and attempted to impound the jeeps, but stopped after a reporter who phoned a Salugpongan administrator who was among the contingent demanded to interview the police.

The contingent managed to get ‘rescued’ as the SOS fielded vehicles to get them home.

Salugpongan Center’s basic education principal Ronnie Garcia criticized the harassment as part of the attacks on Lumad schools. He said the Salugpongan school’s anniversary events have been peaceful until the soldiers came to their areas in 2013.

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