“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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OG ESKWELA PURON (To School I Wish) Literacy Month Festival

The Save Our Schools Network Southern Mindanao in partnership with the University of Immaculate Conception – Community Development Service launches Eskwela Puron (To School, I Wish) Literary and Arts Festival in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Salugpongan Community Learning Center (STTICLC) and the annual Literacy Month.

The ‘Og Eskwela Puron’ Literary and Arts Festival aims to raise public awareness especially among the youth about the lumads’ plight in education and their struggle for self-determination and ancestral domain.

It aims to widen various forms of support for the education of the IP children.

This year festival’s theme is: ‘Og Eskwela Puron’: Education is a right! Help send Lumad children to school and eliminate illiteracy!

 

Rationale and Mechanics

The ‘Og Eskwela Puron’ Literary and Arts Festival is a month-long campaign with activities set in schools and different communities. This shall include series of educational and information dissemination campaigns to drumbeat the issues of the IPs and their plight for education.

The whole campaign shall kick-off on September 1 and shall culminate on September 30.

Inter-School and Inter-Barangay Literary and Arts Festival
This is one of the activities for the month which focuses primarily not on the contest alone but in educating the public about the IP’ situation. Thus, Information and Education campaign is vital for all the activities set in the whole literary and arts festival.

The contest areas, eligibility and mechanics are specified below:

The following are the contest areas:

Literary
• Essay Writing (On the Spot)
• Poetry Writing (On the Spot)
• Short-Story Writing (ENTRY)
• Song Writing (ENTRY)

Arts
• Poster-Making (On the Spot)
• Slogan Making (On the Spot)

 

Eligibility/ Mechanics

Divisions:

There will be no limit on the number of participants to all division. No registration fee is required as long as the
contestant/participant complies with the following requirements and reminders.

A. Inter- School
A.1 High School
All contest areas are open to all bonafide HS students from both public and private schools
All participants must fill up and submit entry forms on or before the contest dates
All participants shall be required to present a valid ID
A.2 College
All contest areas are open to all bonafide College students from both public and private schools
All participants must fill up and submit entry forms on or before the contest dates.
All participants shall be required to present a valid ID

B. Inter- Barangay
Participants ages (16-25 yo)
All contest areas are open to all barangays.
All participants must fill up and submit entry forms on or before the contest dates.
All participants shall present a Barangay Certificate as proof of residence

 

MECHANICS : Essay Writing Contest Submission Guidelines, Rules and Regulations

1. No entry fee is required.
2. All property rights to the essay remain the property of the author and the festival host.
3. All entries must be original works, in English / Filipino/Cebuano. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person’s ideas, without written permission or proper acknowledgment will result in disqualification.
4. Entries shall not have been previously published in any medium / professional media.
5. To be eligible, entries must be works of prose, from 1,000 to 5,000 words in length.
6. Each participant must submit only one essay.
7. All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.
8. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.
9. At the discretion of the author and host, all well written essays may be published on the SOS Web site.
10. The winner’s work will be included in our Bangkakaw publication and other publications.

CRITERIA:

Originality 30 %

Creativity 30 %

Relevance to the Theme: 40 %

 

MECHANICS : Poetry Writing Contest Submission Guidelines, Rules and Regulations

1. No entry fee is required.
2. All property rights to the poem remain the property of the author and the festival host.
3. All entries must be original works, in English / Filipino/Cebuano. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person’s ideas, without written permission or proper acknowledgment will result in disqualification.
4. Entries may not have been previously published in any medium / professional media.
5. Each participant shall submit only one poem.
6. All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.
7. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.
8. The top winner’s work will be published in Bangkakaw and other publication.
9. At the discretion of the author and host, all well written poems may be published on the SOS Web site.

CRITERIA:

Originality 30 %

Creativity 30 %

Relevance to the Theme 40 %

 

MECHANICS: Short Story Writing Contests

1. No entry fee is required.
2. All property rights to the story remain the property of the author and the festival host.
3. All entries must be original works, in English/ Filipino/Cebuano. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters or another person’s ideas, without written permission or proper acknowledgment will result in disqualification.
4. Entries may not have been previously published in any medium / professional media.
5. To be eligible, entries must be from 2,000 to 10,000 words in length.
6. Each participant shall submit only one short story per contest.
7. All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.
8. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.
9. At the discretion of the author and host, all well written short stories may be published on the SOS Web site.

CRITERIA:

Originality 30 %

Creativity 30 %

Relevance to the Theme 40 %

 

MECHANICS: Songwriting Contest

1. Songwriting contest is open to all amateur songwriters.
2. Each songwriter or a collaboration of songwriters (lyricist/s and composer/s) may submit a maximum of two (2) entries.
3. Song entries may be in Filipino, in English or in Cebuano only.

CRITERIA
Originality and Creativity (applied songwriting style, technique, skill) – 30%
Lyrics (effectiveness, message, appropriateness o theme) – 30%
Melody (recall, strength, etc.) – 30%
Overall Appeal – 10%

 

MECHANICS: Poster Making Contest

1. No entry fee is required.
2. All property rights to the poster remain the property of the author and the festival host.
3. Participants may use any medium (acrylic, pastel, or poster on illustration board) or mix media for the contest.
4. All participants will provide their own drawing/painting medium.
5. The host will provide the drawing board/canvas (illustration board).
6. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final.
7. At the discretion of the author and host, all well drawn posters may be published on the SOS Web site and monthly publication.

CRITERIA:

Creativity 40 %

Relevance to the Theme: 60 %

 

SUBMISSION OF ENTRIES

Entries for Song Writing and Short Story Writing Contest shall be submitted on September 23, 2015 at the Festival Proper to be held in the University of Immaculate Conception, Fr. Selga St., Bankerohan, Davao City. The contest will only permit one (1) entry per one (1) participant.

Entries for Song Writing Contest
• Participants shall submit both written and recorded song entry
• Submission of recorded songs shall be in a compact disc (CD)

Entries for Short Story Writing Contest
• Entries shall be encoded, provided in a hard copy
• Entries shall be written in “Times New Roman” Font, with a font size 12”.
• Font spacing shall be at 1.5
• Submission of written short story shall be enclosed in a folder

Entry: Required Information (Separate Sheet)
• Name of Contestant
• Age of Contestant
• Division
o Inter-School – High School/College
Name of School
Year
Course (for college)
o Inter-Barangay
Name of Barangay
• Contact Information: Email Address & Contact No.

 

AWARDS AND PRIZES

All categories will receive the following awards:
Grand Prize Winner ( Certificate and Cash)
Plaque for People’s Choice Award

People’s Choice Award
Entry’s for all categories will be posted in the Save Our Schools Network – SMR Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/saveourschoolsnetwork.smr?fref=ts)
The winner will be determined by the most number of “likes” per category

LITERACY MONTH SECRETARIAT INFORMATION
Save Our Schools Network – Southern Mindanao region
Address: Lot 3 Sputnik Street, Doña Vicenta Village, Davao City
Office of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center – Southern Mindanao
Email Address: saveourschoolsdavao@yahoo.com.ph
Website: saveourschoolsnetwork.org
Telephone Number: (082) 222-5191

SOS challenges local officials to act on attacks against schools

A group of child-rights advocates lamented the government’s inaction over educational institutions “villified” as New People’s Army schools.

In a press conference on Monday, Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save our Schools (SOS) Network scored a barangay captain in a Bukidnon town for supporting the closure of a school for indigenous peoples.

Valle said village chairman Felipe Cabugnason of Barangay White Culaman in Kitaotao town in Bukidnon is “leading the closure” of a local branch of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Incorporated (Misfi) Academy.

 

Read more of this in Group challenges LGU: Act on Army attacks against schools at davaotoday.com

How to help the Manobo evacuees

Calls for support to the Manobo communities driven out from their communities by the paramilitary murders of their leaders have increased in recent days.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which has community schools in lumad areas in Mindanao, call out to the Catholic groups to support the alternative learning schools and call for the end of militarization in Mindanao.

“We encourage different sectors especially the church people to join and support in condemning the continuous attack to Lumad communities and their alternative learning schools. We challenge the Aquino government to immediately act and stop the political killings, harassment and militarization not only in Surigao del Sur but the whole Mindanao region.” said RMP National Coordinator Sr. Francis Añover, RSM, who is also a Mindanaoan.

Añover also appealed to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the Manobo evacuees. “We also urge the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to condole with the victims by condemning the offense and the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.”

Meanwhile, Manila Bulletin columnist and blogger Tonyo Cruz wrote about things the public can do to help the indigenous peoples in Mindanao, as suggested by Karapatan:

1. Ask President BS Aquino, the military’s commander-in-chief, to immediately order the withdrawal of military forces from all Manobo Lumad communities, houses, and schools so that the displaced communities could return home.

2. Call for an end to displacements, abductions, killings, and massacres of Manobo Lumads, and for an independent investigation into the tragic incidents.

3. Call for the prosecution of the perpetrators.

4. Call for abolition of Magahat Bagani, Alamara, and other “vigilante” groups.

5. Ask for the resignation of Rep. Catamco as chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples, and for her investigation over the June 23 attack on UCCP Haran.

6. Seek an end to the “Oplan Bayanihan” counter-insurgency program for targeting civilians and civilian communities.

Statement: Attacks on Mindanao Lumad schools and communities intensify as Aquino’s military goes berserk for Oplan Bayanihan

The last year of the Benigno S. Aquino presidency has meant a bloodbath for indigenous peoples and for Lumad education, two months after his State of the Nation Address where he gloated of figures that have purportedly addressed classroom shortages and increased the quality of Philippine education.

Emerito ‘Tatay Emok’ Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) and a convenor of the Save Our Schools Network was killed by government-backed indigenous paramilitary forces. His body was found lying in a pool of blood, with stab wounds on his neck, and his throat slit. While Dionel Campos, chairperson of MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for Future Manobo Generations), and his cousin Aurelio “Bello” Sinzo, were strafed dead before the terrified community of Han-ayan, Lianga town, Surigao del Sur province.

The paramilitary group Magahat— armed, controlled, and commanded by the 36th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army— burned down the school cooperative building and threatened to massacre the entire community if they would not leave the area two days before the killing of the Samarca, Campos, and Sinzo in the morning of September 1, 2015.

The dastardly crime which was perpetrated at dawn and later carried out in broad daylight, terrified the erstwhile peaceful Manobo school and community. As of this writing, the number of evacuees in Caraga has swelled to 2,000 individuals or 500 families coming from the municipalities of San Miguel and Lianga, with some 70 families still lost in nearby forests.

The Philippine military’s attack on ALCADEV using indigenous paramilitaries is by far the gravest and most vicious violation of indigenous peoples’ right to education and constitutes a wholesale violation of children’s rights. Moreover, as schools are an integral part of communities, the attack is an open declaration of the Philippine state’s war of annihilation against people’s organizations and communities resisting foreign largescale plunder of ancestral domains.

The 36th IB Philippine Army-Magahat rampage at the ALCADEV School shows that the Aquino government has dropped all pretenses of adhering to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments. It also demonstrates the irrefutable crimes of the Philippine Army against indigenous children which the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and the Armed Conflict has continually glossed over, understated, or consistently concealed in its annual reports.

The Philippine government’s attacks on the ALCADEV School clearly shows its contempt towards self-determined development asserted by indigenous communities. Alternative Lumad schools are pushing for their own culturally-relevant pedagogy that liberates indigenous peoples from the yoke of institutionalized discrimination and corporate plunder of ancestral lands.

These Ethnocidal attacks on indigenous education, indigenous leaders and their staunch advocates and supporters are but the latest in a string of Aquino’s orders to tighten the noose on Lumad schools:
1.Since April of 2014 up to present, 25 Lumad schools and community schools were forced to halt operations for the entire month of June due to harassment by the AFP and sanctioned by the Department of Education (DepEd).
2.At least 84 cases of attacks on 57 community schools have displaced and disrupted the education of over 3,000 Lumad children.
3.Three (3) minors were brutally killed by the elements of 3rd Company of the 1st Special Forces Battalion under the ground commander Capt. Balatbat with Col. Nasser Lidasan as Battalion Commander on August 19, 2015 in Pangatukan town, Bukidnon province. They were part of 5 Manobo tribals strafed and killed on suspicion of being NPA combatants.
4.The schooling of Lumad children under the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur was disrupted when residents of Brgy. Siagao, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur were displaced. The victims were killed by an armed group led by Hasmin and elements of the 36th IBPA.
5.A Lumad child was among 14 farmers in White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon who were illegally detained and arrested by elements of 8th IB ug 23rd IB headed by Nicolas Rivera and an official named Tocmo. All were accused as members of the New People’s Army in contrast to the fact that they are members of organizations Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Barangay White Culaman ( NAMABAW) and Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Arakan (TIKULPA). The Army threatened to burn down the MISFI-run (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated) school which offers 7th and 8th grade education in Sitio Dao, Bukidnon.
6.Adding to these abuses is the ongoing mass evacuation of the Talaingod people in Davao City since April of this year due to intensified military operations and threats from the terrorist paramilitary group ALAMARA. Around 1, 000 individuals from San Fernando Bukidnon, Kapalong and Talaingod, Davao del Norte have sought sanctuary at UCCP Haran, Davao City. Learners from STTICLC in Talaingod have been holding their classes at the refugee camp since the evacuation started.

The Aquino government should be held accountable for all these violations. It is responsible for the formation and arming of the paramilitary groups, the paving the way for the enty of largescale destructive projects in the ancestral domains, the sowing of disunity among IPs, and the killings that have claimed the lives of many.
The Save Our Schools Network demands Justice for Samarca, Campos, Sinzo and all victims of human rights abuses! End all forms of attacks on schools and communities!

Prof. Mae Fe Templa, RSW, MSW
Convenor, Save Our Schools Network

Stop the killings in Mindanao