SOS Network condemns killing of 15-year old lumad student in Talaingod

The Save Our Schools Network condemns in strongest terms the killing of a 15-year old Salugpongan student in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Sunday reportedly committed by the paramilitary Alamara.

Based on reports from the community, Alibando Tingkas, 15 years old, a grade 3 student of Salugpongan School in Talaingod was reportedly killed in Sitio Laslasakan, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod.

“We are enraged and saddened by this incident. The paramilitary group and their military cohorts will not stop from attacking and even killing lumads in the name of their counter-insurgency operations, even children are not spared anymore” said Rius Valle, spokesperson of the SOS Network in Southern Mindanao

Valle said witnesses saw Tingkas was with two young companions walking home around three in the afternoon when the incident happened. “Witnesses said they were their way home, walking from Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy. Palma Gil heading towards Sitio Bayabas, when suddenly they were fired upon in Sitio Laslasakan, just a half-an-hour walk from Sitio Nasilaban” Valle narrated.

A Salugpongan teacher in Sitio Laslaskan immediately asked community members to check when they heard two (2) gunshots nearby. Alibando was found shot at the chest twice. The community was only able to retrieve the body when a huge contingent of community members braved to enter the area despite the fears of more attacks from Alamara members.

Valle said community members identified the perpetrator as a certain Joven Salangani, a member of Alamara. “However we are yet to confirm whether he was alone or with a group” Valle added.

Alibando is the 29th child victim of extrajudicial killing under the implementation of Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” Oplan Bayanihan. The last lumad victim of extrajudicial killing was Datu Manliro Landahay, council member of Salugpongan Lumad Organization in Talaingod. Again, he was killed by members of AFP-backed Alamara last November 7.

The SOS maintains that Alamara, like the Magahat-Bagani in Surigao del Sur and other paramilitary groups in Mindanao, are believed to be funded and organized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to augment their forces for its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan in Mindanao.

Valle added that the AFP and their paramilitary cronies never stopped from threatening and harassing indigenous communities, even during Christmas holidays. “And now, they are desperately trying to quell the growing lumad resistance by killing innocent children, their future leaders and defenders” Valle lamented.

“This is the result of their continuing and worsening harassment and tagging of lumad schools as NPA schools. Children are targets just like what they did in the Lumad schools of Alcadev in Surigao and the Fr. Pops’ Memorial School in White Culaman in Bukidnon last year” said Valle.

He recounted the killings of the school head and two lumad leaders in the September 1 massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and also the forcible closure and demolition of a Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio memorial school in Kitaotao, Bukidnon, as part of the AFP’s counter-insurgency plan and that these schools have long been accused as NPA run-schools to legitimize their attack and continuously avoid being held accountable.

”SOS will be conducting further investigation of this matter. We urge the LGU of Talaingod to also investigate and apprehend those responsible, and for the national leadership to take heed lest things go out of hand and they will also suffer the consequences. Yet as of now, we are focusing our efforts to secure the family and the witnesses” Valle concluded.