Alamara, military blockade of Salugpongan foundation guests condemned

The Save Our Schools (SOS) Southern Mindanao network condemns the harassment of students, teachers, parents and visitors attending the Salugpongan’s 11th Founding Anniversary and Bwalawan Festival last September 28 to October 1, 2015 committed by the military and the Alamara.

Rius Valle, spokesperson of SOS network said that more than 300 students, teachers and PTCA members from existing Salugpongan Learning Centers in the region were harassed before entering Barangay Dagohoy, the venue of the foundation event.

“Soldiers together with ten (10) Alamara and tribal council leaders prohibited us from entering. We were anxious since some Alamara members were shouting at us and set up their bows, arrows, spears and bolos,” said Valle.

Valle said the tribal leaders headed by Lumansad Sibugan, supporters of Alamara, suspected they were bringing more Manobo people to the evacuation center in Haran, and insisted they have to pay “courtesy visit” to them for not informing them of the event.

Ronie Garcia, principal of the Salupgongan Learning Center Basic Education, refuted Sibugan’s claim as he said the school has been celebrating their anniversary for 11 years and in the past the Local Government Unit of Talaingod would even send its representative, but all of these change after the military arrived in 2013.

“I think this was never about courtesy. I think this is part of their plan to close down Salugpongan schools and threaten the students, teachers and the community as a whole to stop supporting Salugpongan” Garcia said.

Even after the celebration, the participants continued to be subject to harassments on October 1 when police stopped the vehicles from bringing the passengers home.

“When the participants were scheduled to go back to their respective campuses, suspected military agents together with the police (Kapalong Municipal Police Station) continued harassing us and issued absurd violations to our vehicles like driving without uniform, shoes, seatbelt and etc. One of our vehicles was impounded by the police after the driver failed to present a license which we think is just part of elaborative plan to discourage us in our support to IP schools” said Valle.

“We deplore these acts as this only proves that the military, LGUs, and police together with the paramilitary are desperate to close down IP schools as part of the counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino government,” Valle added.

“Their desperate actions however violates the lumads’ right to education and protection from the state. Their actions should be investigated by authorities,” he said.

The harassments did not stop the Manobo communities to celebrate the Salugpongan Foundation Day and Bwalawan Festival which included sports and musical programs.

“The successful event proved that the unity of the community – which also means ‘Salugpongan’- will overcome all barriers” said Ronie Garcia.

“In the 11 years of existence, they have now learned more how to defend their people and their land from encroaching corporate plunderers targeting Pantaron Range. The education they have acquired is an effective tool against destructive mining corporations and fascist attacks of the state, even more effective since the 1994 defense of their ancestral land against Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) logging firm” Garcia narrated.

The host community, Km 30 Barangay Dagohoy, expressed their appreciation for the school and is ready to protect their school.

“As Salugpongan leader Datu Guibang Apoga affirmed his stand to us, we will never abandoned the children, we will never abandoned the Lumads, and we will fight through spreading education” Garcia concluded.

Salugpungan students continue schooling in Haran in fourth month

(MISIF teacher Ricky Balilid in a makeshift class with Salugpongan’s Manobo students. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas)

How are the lumad students doing inside their refuge shelter in UCCP Haran for the fourth straight month?

In this series of photos and interviews, photojournalist Erwin Mascarinas shows images of some of the 230 Manobo students between pre-school to grade six and interviews with two teachers from Salugpungan Learning Center and MISFI Academy who are among the mentors assigned to continue the education for these children.

“Teaching in the evacuation center is really a hard and huge challenge for us, but as a lumad myself, it’s an honor to teach and help the children learn more and be educated,” said Charlene Sawit, a Salugpongan teacher.

A student express hope that they may return to their community and school with the military and paramilitary out from their sight.

“It’s hits hard when we see armed men come to our village, and then some of them stay right inside our school ground. We hope that our hardship will end soon, and we can go back in peace to our village,” said one of the students.

read and see more photos here Interaksyon : 4th month for lumad refugees at UCCP Haran; kids attend makeshift school

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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