​GRAVEYARD. The coffins of Leonila and Ramon Pesadilla are carried by their neighbors and relatives to their final resting place at 3 pm, Sunday in Compostela town, Compostela Valley Province. Their graveyard is located on a hill above the lot which the couple donated to a Lumad school. (Contributed photo)

COMPOSTELA VALLEY PROVINCE, Philippines – A farmer-couple who donated a parcel of their land for a lumad school here were laid to rest Sunday after being shot to death in their own home by still unidentified assailants last March 2.

The couple, Leonila and Ramon Pesadilla, members of Compostela Farmers Association were buried at their own lot in Sitio Spur Dos, Compostela town at 3:00 pm Sunday.

Hundreds of mourners from the neighboring town gathered for two days to pay their last respects for the couple who have donated a parcel of their land to put up a Lumad school in Sitio Spur Dos, Compostela town.

Jona Rose Baugto, vice chairperson of CFA said, the couple “saw that the Lumad do not have the capacity to educate their children, that is why they gave their land to set up the Salugpongan School.”

This came up after a general assembly of CFA, where Lumad farmers raised their concerns that no land available to put up a school for their children.

Owning a piece of land, the couple donated their two-hectare land for the school. The school now caters grades 7-10 in high school, despite the lack of electricity connection.

Rius Valle, spokesperson of Lumad education advocate Save Our Schools Network in Southern Mindanao said the couples’ hearts were one and supportive for the Lumad in their community.

“They may not be Lumads, but their heart is one and supportive for the young Lumads in their community who long for education,” Valle said in a previous statement.

Valle said the Pesadilla couple and other farmers who were victims of impunity, “have given so much for the people and for the environment.”

He said describing the couple as “generous” would be an understatement. “They are indeed extraordinarily selfless,” Valle said.

Pedro Arnado, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in the region said Leonila is also a leader of the Quarry Farmers Association.

Arnado said in the past eight months there are already 15 farmers and lumad who were victims of extrajudicial killings.

“This pattern of impunity and attacks on community leaders and defenders is awfully similar to the time of Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino’s administrations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the SOS Network’s recent documentation on attack on schools in the region shows that the killing of the couple couple is the 54th  case since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed presidency.

Valle believes the couple’s participation on establishing the Lumad school in their community is one motive that they were killed.

“One motive on their killing is their participation on the school development, from donating the land, to participation of other activities,” Valle said.

The killing of the couple is also the 2nd incident in the community of GK Village. Last year, their leader Jimmy Saipan was also shot dead by a still unidentified assailant. Authorities is still conducting investigation on the killing. (davaotoday.com)

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