Rural Missionaries condemn arrest of Salugpongan teacher Ammy Pond

(Salugpongan Learning Center Ronie Garcia, left, with members of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines visited Teacher ‘Ammy’ Amelia Pond (in blue shirt) at the Camp Sotero Cabahug in Cebu City)
Statement
August 19, 2016

Rural Missionaries condemn the arrest of its Southern Mindanao region Coordinator

The women and men, priests, clergy and lay workers of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) denounced the illegal arrest and detention of Amelia Pond, 64 years old, Regional Coordinator of RMP Southern Mindanao Region and a teacher and research-documentation officer of Salugpongan Schools in the region. The incident happened today August 19 at 12noon while on her way out from the Living the Gospel Renewal Center after attending the 3-day RMP National Assembly in Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City.

“We condemn this attack on Ms. Amelia as this is harassment to us supporters of the farmers and indigenous people in the countryside under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” stated by Sr. Francis Anover, RSM of RMP.

RMP SMR just like any other regions in Mindanao was known for supporting and helping the Lumad people to build schools. But these Lumad were also primarily target of military and para-military attacks that resulted to increasing numbers of human rights violation and bakwet (evacuees).

Continue reading Rural Missionaries condemn arrest of Salugpongan teacher Ammy Pond

Lumad school head exposes intel harassment on family

(Story originally posted on DavaoToday.com)
(Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Incorporated Executive Director Ronnie Garcia decries the threats he got from an alleged army intelligence agent. He said the school and their teachers have been tagged as an NPA school even before he formally started teaching in 2011. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com))

DAVAO CITY— A Lumad school administrator accuse the Army of sending intelligence agents to harass him by “visiting” him and his family.

Ronnie Garcia, executive director of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) said they saw suspicious men in the Davao Regional Hospital in Barangay Apokon, Tagum City where they were attending to his sick grandfather morning of July 24.

Continue reading Lumad school head exposes intel harassment on family

On International Human Rights Day, our call to Aquino: Stop the Attacks on Lumad Schools, Revoke Dep-Ed Memo 221

The Save our Schools Network – an alliance of different child’s rights advocates, people’s organization, religious and academic institutions, and individuals – calls the government to act as many of the schools in Lumad communities were either closed or destroyed. As one of the lead convenors of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, SOS reiterates the call for the Aquino administration to put a stop to the attacks on lumad schools and communities.

According to Rius Valle, SOS Network spokesperson for Mindanao, there are 22 out of 162 lumad schools in Mindanao that were closed or classes were suspended due to military harassment and encampment of thier schools and communities. Military operations and encampment has resulted to 6,000 lumads affected of forcible evacuation and displacement from September to November 2015 alone.

“Despite of the concern and sympathy that the killing of the executive director of a lumad school and the lumad leaders got from the public, there is no let-up in the military operations for the closure of lumad schools. The military not only continued but has become more bold in their attacks against lumad community and people,“ said Valle.

Valle added that after the September 1 massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, 18 lumad schools run by the Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) were forcibly closed-down as 3,000 lumad evacuated in Tandag City.

In a report of the recently held International Fact-Finding Mission in Surigao del Sur dated November 9, 2015, it was stated that out of 18 schools affected, one (1) TRIFPSS school was totally scorched along with several houses, while two (2) were partially burned. A teachers’ cottage of ALCADEV was also burned down last November 10, 2015 in Barangay Padiay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

In Southern Mindanao region, several lumad schools in Kitaotao, Bukidnon, Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley were also burned down and forced to stop classed due to military encampment:

• Three (3) schools in Talaingod and Kapalong Davao del Norte were forced stop their classes in June this year and were forced to resume in an evacuation camp in Davao City;
• Another four (4) lumad schools have been subjected to different forms of military attacks from October to December;
• In mid-November two (2) lumad schools in different communities of Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod were forced to stop classes and evacuate the community due to the presence of paramilitary group Alamara;
• In Compostela, the Salugpongan School and their homes were abandoned by the Matigsalog tribe in Purok 4B, Barangay Mangayon due to the encampment of 66th Infantry Battalion in front of the school and along community houses.

Valle added that while the lumad leaders of Kitaotao, Bukidnon were in Manila for the Manilakbayan caravan protest from October to November, 24 students of their lumad school, Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School, were forced to flee as the school was was forcibly closed and was demolished by the village chief Felipe Cabugnason along with the 8th Infantry Battalion.

Valle also slammed the connivance of different government agencies and local government units with the military in perpetrating these attacks. He added that under the Aquino adminstration’s Oplan Bayanihan, several government agencies were used to suppress lumad schools.

Instead of supporting community-initiated lumad schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) complements Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Letter Directive 25 through the issuance of DepEd Memo 221, which allows and legitimizes military presence in schools and other public places.

Other agencies such as the National Commission on Indigenous People and the local government units also kowtow to the military in its implementation of counter-insurgency program by red-tagging the lumad schools and its teachers as well as the community leaders who head the schools.

Valle also reports that in Southern Midnanao, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) have been actively participating in military operations aside from complementing military psy-war tactics by providing conditional cash programs to lumad communities.

Valle said that the success of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao rest on the people who sympathized and supported the campaign of the lumad people to stop government attacks on their schools. Aside from donations received, Valles urged support groups to also push the government to revoke its counter-insurgency policies that affects the lumad people.

‘For the sake of the lumad children and the future of the lumad community, we urge those who were reached by our campaign to help rebuild lumad schools that were burned and forced to close down, actively call for the revocation of DepEd Memo 221 and campaign for a stop to military operations in lumad areas,’ said Valle.

Reply to President Aquino’s hand-washing on the recent Lumad killings

(Photo from Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command PR shows Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad being conferred a lumad tribute by lumads linked to the AFP)

(This is the statement of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Northern Mindanao Region on President Benigno Aquino III’s response to the militarization and killings in Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon and other areas in Mindanao. You can visit their website at http://www.rmp-nmr.org/)

Instead of ordering an investigation, the president, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gives a careless statement when he said, “There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after everybody who commits crimes, regardless of who they are.”

His pronouncement is both a denial of what is going on, and at the same time an accusation targeted at the victims butchered by the government forces and supporting paramilitary minions.

While the public document of the government’s Internal Peace and Security Plan, dubbed “Bayanihan,” does not have a word on the killing rampage of the AFP, the president’s statement of full support and endorsement of the Investment Defense Forces – formally the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) and informally the paramilitary groups – is a standing order for the military’s guiding principle. At the core of the military’s actions is the interest to protect business firms – not the people it has sworn to protect.

If President Aquino says the campaign is to go after a person “who commits crimes” and dismisses the killings as justified actions of the military, then he is implying that those massacred and murdered by his forces were criminals. His statement is consistent with the military’s claim that they have been going after members of the New People’s Army, a statement that has been exposed to be a lie by the communities they have targeted and by the people who have seen their smears in the aftermath of their slaughter (see: Fact-Finding Mission Report on the Pangantucan Massacre).

The Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) is an award-winning educational institution that has a special curriculum on agriculture, technical and vocational skills. One of the victims of the recent spate of killings is ALCADEV’s executive director, Emerito Samarca. Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) is an organization of the Manobo community in Surigao del Sur, which has been launching campaigns based on the stand of its members – the primary need to protect their ancestral domain from investments that have long been trying to get ahold of their resources. One of those killed was the head of this organization, and the other his cousin also a member of this group. They were serving the people. Yes, serving the people does not entail killing any of the citizens. Those serving the people were the ones killed. The government killed them.

Sr. Ma. Famita N. Somogod, MSM
Coordinator, RMP-NMR Inc

Government authorities are accountable for attacks on Lumad schools!

We, the Save Our Schools Network condemn in strongest possible terms the recent attacks on schools in Brgy. White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon and the killings of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development), a lumad school in Surigao del Sur, and two (2) others, by members of MAGAHAT paramilitary forces yesterday, September 1 at the ALCADEV Compound in Km 16, Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The act of killing was also witnessed by teachers and students of ALCADEV who were roused from their dormitories about 4:00 in the morning.

WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY! The continuing use of this paramilitary forces by the AFP in their counter-insurgency have gravely cost not just the children’s right to education, but also the lives of children, IP leaders, educators and human rights defenders not only in CARAGA and Southern Mindanao Region but all over Mindanao.

Further, the recent systematic attacks on MISFI Academy and a daycare center, and other human rights violation in Barangay White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon perpetrated by combined forces of 23rd and 8th Infantry Battalions have caused great alarm and displacement among indigenous people last August 25 to August 30, 2015.

We demand an immediate investigation on complaints of illegal arrests and detention of 14 people, forced surrender of nearly all male residents of Barangay White Culaman Sentro, destruction of school properties, threats of burning the school, and the use of about 20 students as human shield during military operation.

These shameless acts of the State Armed Forces puts the children and all of the civilians at risk, violating not just our own Philippine laws but also international covenants, the UNCRC, UDHR, Geneva Protocols and the like. The incessant attacks among indigenous peoples are becoming more vicious targeting even our most vulnerable and defenseless sectors as Oplan Bayanihan nears its end.

As the 2016 election is drawing near, we urge the congress, the senate and even the presidentiables to hear these complaints and act upon it. Thus, the pending call of our senators to conduct a senate inquiry regarding the cases of attacks on school should be realized.

We call on the prosecution of all violators of children’s rights and an end to this continuing impunity.

STOP military attacks on schools here in Mindanao!

DISBAND all paramilitary groups!!

JUSTICE for all victims of military atrocities!

dionel_emok

Lumad school head, two lumads killed by paramilitary in Surigao del Sur

(Right: Dionel Campos, Mapasu chair; Left: Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of Alcadev, photos from Karapatan Caraga)

Paramilitary members roused the Manobo community of Brgy. Lianga in Diatagon, Surigao del Sur last Monday dawn and killed the head of an alternative school, a lumad leader and his cousin in front of them.

Reports from Interaksyon and Karapatan Caraga said the lumad paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Force executed Mapasu leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo in front of the residents including the Manobo students. Later, the students saw Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture & Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) , dead inside the school compound with his neck slashed and stomach stabbed. (Read Interaksyon’s story here)

The school and community was earlier occupied by the military and were threatened to leave their village or they will be massacred.

Activist groups and support groups including Save Our Schools conducted rallies nationwide to call for justice for the killing of the three persons and for the pullout of troops and paramilitary in lumad communities.