DAVAO CITY – The Army on Monday held more than a hundred guests attending a foundation day of a Lumad school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
From 6:30 in the morning up to 5:00 in the afternoon, the guests of the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc.’s 11th Foundation Day dubbed, Bwalawan Festival, were held by military forces at a checkpoint in Sitio Daligdigon, Barangay Dagohoy in Talaingod.
Those held included parents, students, teachers, and support groups from Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental campuses of the school.
Ronnie Garcia, basic education head of the school in Talaingod, said “this is the first time that delegates for the foundation day were not permitted to enter the area.”
Garcia said “according to the teachers, members of the paramilitary group–Alamara were there at the military detachment near the checkpoint with some of the members of the Tribal Council of Talaingod.”
In a television interview, 1st Lt. Alexandre Cabales, Acting Chief of the Division of Public Affairs Office of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said the matter is “to be resolved by the local law enforcement agency in the area.”
Cabales said that, they “have no responsibility on the incident”.
In a statement, Save Our Schools Network in Southern Mindanao, Spokesperson Rius Valle said the guests, “presented the courtesy letter from Talaingod Mayor Basilio Libayao and from the Barangay Captain to the military who held them.”
Despite this, Valle said a certain Datu Lumansad Sibogan, barred them from entering the community.
“Sibogan stressed his authority by asserting the need for a free and prior informed consent to the tribal council which he purportedly leads before any activity will commence in Talaingod communities,” Valle said.
He added that, “Sibogan was backed by the military and the paramilitary group Alamara armed with spears, arrows and bolo.”
Meanwhile, Davao del Norte Indigenous Peoples Representative to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Datu Victor Padian, said “the group was held by the military (because) they do not have consent on entering the community, we (were) not notified that they will enter.”
Padian in a radio interview said that anyone who wished to enter the community must secure a Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) to notify the local government unit.
“It is to inform the Governor, the Mayor, and the chieftains of the community. The Mayor must be notified first,” Padian said
Padian added that FPIC, being mandated in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) must be secured for “in case something will happen [to anyone who get in the IP community] they will know. It is for their safety.”
However, Garcia said that on September 27, “they personally gave invitation letter to the office of the The Tribal Council of Talaingod in Davao del Norte [headed by] Bae Pilar Libayao , the IP Mandatory Representative in Talaingod,” but said that Libayao, “did not accept their invitation” and decided to give the letter Monday.
Garcia said they were not made to secure FPIC during the previous celebration of the school’s foundation day. He said the local government officials of Barangay Palma Gil are always attending the said activity.
“Since 2007 up to 2013, the LGU diligently sends representative to the foundation day,” said Garcia.
Garcia said that at 5:00 pm, some of the guests were able to enter to the community but 25 of them were left due to the limited number of motorcycle traveling from Barangay Sto. Niño to Sitio Km.30, Barangay Dagohoy, in Talaingod. The 25 guests are now staying at a catholic church in Sto. Niño.
The Foundation day of STTICLCI is set to be a week long celebration starting up to September 30 and to be participated by students and teachers from its 24 other campuses all over Southern Mindanao region.
The Lumad school has prevailed to continue to open its branches despite previous closure orders the Department of Education (DepEd).
The agency has since reversed its order and granted the school temporary permits, after students, faculty and supporters protested and camped outside the DepEd office.
“We recognize the effort of the community members of the school who stood for the school [to continue operating],” He said.
Out of the more than 900 enrolled students of STTICLCI, 92 of them are continuing their studies at a church compound here.
Garcia clarified that the students who are now staying at the Protestant church compound here come from the “most affected areas of militarization, where their houses are being occupied by state forces.” (davaotoday.com)