Lumads’ plight moves Vagina Monologue playwright Eve Ensler to tears

Eve Ensler, founder of One Billion Rising global campaign turns emotional after hearing the stories of the Lumad evacuees inside the evacuation center at a church compound in Davao City on Friday, February 12. (Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com) Continue reading Lumads’ plight moves Vagina Monologue playwright Eve Ensler to tears

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

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

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.

Thousands join funeral march for 3 Surigao lumad martyrs

Amid calls for justice, thousands of Lumads, peasants, workers and other progressives in Mindanao joined the separate funerals over the weekend for the three men killed by a paramilitary group in Surigao del Sur.

Tribal school director Emerito Samarca, and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo were hailed as “martyrs” as they were laid to rest almost two weeks after they were killed by the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani Force, in suspected collusion with soldiers, on Sept. 1 in Diatagon village, Lianga.

Justice remains uncertain, even as Malacañang expressed support to the investigation on the incident, while the military issued denials of its involvement. Meanwhile, families of the victims, Lumad leaders and Diatagon residents who were themselves victims in the rampage, stand by their testimonies about military presence during the killings. Witnesses reportedly continue to receive threats, to prevent them from telling the truth.

“We will honor the deaths of our recent martyrs through our strong commitment to the truth,” said the Lumad group Kahugpungan Alang sa Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo-Caraga).

Read more of this story at Thousands join funerals of 3 Surigao Sur ‘martyrs’ from bulatlat.com.

View photos of the funeral march at Thousands attend burial of school director in Surigao del Sur from davaotoday.com

 

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

Four-year old Manobo dies of illness in Tandag evacuation

(photo of Manobo girl sleeping at Tandag Sports Comples/ courtesy of Kilab Multimedia)

A Manobo couple, who joined thousands to flee their residence, lost a daughter after she fell ill inside the provincial sports center in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur early Tuesday morning.

Rinabel, 4, the youngest daughter of the couple Maribel and Rexan Enriquez, died at around 3:00 a.m.

Maribel, in previous news reports, said her daughter had asthma and was “really sick” on Monday.

Julieto Trinidal, 29, who teaches multi-grade in the Tribal Filipino Program for Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) in San Agustin told Davao Today that Rinabel was one of their students in day care.

“Diri lang nigrabe ang sakit sa bata (The child’s sickness worsened here),” he said, referring to the evacuation center shared by almost 3,000 other evacuees.

Trinidal also lamented that they worry where to get the medicines for their children.

Read more of this account in Davao Today’s story http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/parents-lost-youngest-daughter-in-evacuation-center-in-surigao-del-sur-2/

Save Our Schools also call for kind donations such as medicines, food, water, sleeping materials for some 2,400 Manobo evacuees now in Tandag, Surigao del Sur.