MISFI teachers flee from Alamara in Paquibato

Two teachers of the MISFI Academy in Brgy. Tapak, Paquibato District were forced to close the school and leave the community last July 7 after receiving threats from the paramilitary Alamara.

According to the teachers Jun Villasorda and Chavez Paterno Jr. the community members told them to leave immediately fearing retaliation from the Alamara members whose leader Ruben Lubawan was murdered in Panabo. Alamara members alleged the teachers were sympathetic to the New People’s Army.

The teachers had to trek for several hours through a different route for their safety. They received word from the community leaders in Tapak that Alamara leader Boris Cayuga warned the community they will burn the school and the teachers’ cottage, and hang the MISFI teachers if they plan to go back to the community.

Villasorda said in his statement he is dismayed by the Alamara’s red-tagging against them and the MISFI Academy and is concerned that classes have been disrupted for the children who have long been deprived of education from the government.

The Save Our Schools Network joins the MISFI Academy in calling out to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Education to look into this continuing attacks by the paramilitary against lumad community schools.

We continue our call to stop the attacks on schools.

“Lumad leaders” are actually paramilitary leaders

(Top photo from inquirer.net)

Two lumads who showed up in a press conference in the Army headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Manila are exposed now as leaders of paramilitary groups responsible to the attacks on lumads.

Last Monday, three lumads including Datu Malapandaw Nestor Apas from the Langilan Tribal Manobo based in Davao del Norte,  Marcial Belandres from Barobo, Surigao del Sur and Rico Macat of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur appeared in the presscon and claimed that the New People’s Army were responsible for the killings of Alcadev director Emerito Samarca, Mapasu leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo.

News reports were critical of their claims. The Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote : “However, none of them presented any evidence or first-hand information to back up their allegations that the attacks were perpetrated by communist rebels.” see full story here NPA behind killings, claim ‘lumad’ leaders

Their claims contradict testimonies of Alcadev teachers and the community who saw how the paramilitary Magahat-Bagani Force shot Campos and Sinzo in front of them on the morning of September 1.

However, the big issue now is the revelation that Apas and Belandres are tagged as leaders of paramilitary groups.

Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, who earlier voiced his stand to have the Magahat-Bagani disarmed, arrested and even shot, told the Inquirer that Belandres is a leader of the said group. Here’s an excerpt of that Inquirer report:

In a phone interview, Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel said Belandres was a Magahat-Bagani leader and “one of those we want arrested for harassing lumad communities.”
Documents earlier furnished by Pimentel to the Inquirer identified Belandres as a leader of a paramilitary group operating in communities in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, particularly the small-scale gold mining site in Barangay Bolhoon in San Miguel town and in Barobo town.

 

The Inquirer report also revealed Apas as an organizer of the Alamara group which has been harassing the Manobos in Talaingod and Kapalong.  The report interviewed a Salugpongan leader who said Apas has abandoned the tribes:

Tribal leaders in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, assert that Apas, one of those presented by the military in Camp Aguinaldo, has long before turned his back from his own people after he joined another paramilitary group, Alamara.

He does not even have influence over the constituency, especially that he is not staying with the tribe in the hinterlands, Datu Doloman Dawsay said. “You cannot be a datu and stay in the lowlands.”

 

The report also quoted a MISFI teacher who was confronted by Apas and the Alamara:

A teacher of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. recalled an incident on Feb. 6 when some 100 members of the Alamara and government militias led by Lito Masaloon occupied Sitio Muling in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong town.

The next day, soldiers from the 60th Infantry Battalion led by a certain First Lieutenant Roldan and Second Lieutenant Careño arrived along with Apas, who was wielding an M-16 rifle, and Matol Masaloon, said the teacher, Ricky Balilid.

On the third day of the occupation, Apas, along with Roldan and Careño, summoned the teachers to the house of Olong Tiklunay, took their pictures and lectured them about the government’s counterinsurgency campaign.

The full story can be read here Tribal chief in AFP briefing a paramilitary leader, says Surigao gov

Salugpongan leaders also said Apas was last seen during the botch rescue and attack on UCCP Haran last July 23.  Apas is also included in the case filed by rights groups for the said attack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘These people are acting like gods’: Disarm, disband militia, Surigao del Sur gov demands as evacuees near 3,000

“The Army helped in creating this militia group then they should find means to stop and put an end to them.” – Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel

Pimentel brushed the military’s professions aside, saying: “It would be hard for the Army to deny that they know these people because members of this Bagani force have been seen within their headquarters. We have seen this militia group carry between 20 to 30 high-powered firearms … where did this tribal group get their assault rifles and ammunition? Why allow this group to just walk around carrying such firearms?”

“We are appearing inutile as we are helpless to do anything. These people are acting like gods.”

Read Gov. Pimentel’s stand on this issue of paramilitary troops in Surigao del Sur here ‘These people are acting like gods’: Disarm, disband militia, Surigao del Sur gov demands as evacuees near 3,000

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.