July 28, 2017
QUEZON CITY – On July 28, Lumad students and their volunteer teachers from Mindanao filed their complaints on attacks against schools at the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). They also raised concerns following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's remarks after his State of the Nation Address that he would bomb Lumad schools based on reports that the school are allegedly operating "illegally".
The Joint Monitoring Committee is comprised of the joint secretariats of the Government of the Republic Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who are tasked to receive, notify and probe reports of human rights and IHL violations.
Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools Mindanao, a network assisting the Lumad students and teachers in filing complaints, said “it is lamentable that the Duterte administration continues to encourage such brazen violation of the Lumad children’s right to education, instead of supporting the indigenous people’s initiatives to provide free and progressive education to their communities.”
One of the complaints filed at the JMC is the indiscriminate firing of the paramilitary Alamara on teachers and students of the Salugpongan 'Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. This took place on June 20 when Alamara member Rodel “Ang-angoy” Butanlog fired indiscriminately at the Salugpongan school in Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy. Palma Gil. Butanlog was angry that teachers and students reported his threat to burn all Salugpongan schools. One student was slightly grazed by a bullet, when Butanlog fired at the school thrice, while 60 students and three teachers were left traumatized.
On July 25, four Alamara members repeated the same threats of burning Salugpongan schools this time in schools in Sitio Dulyan, Brgy. Palma Gil, still in Talaingod. The Alamara members were demanding the whereabouts of Parents-Teachers and Community Association (PTCA) Benacio Dalin, Benjo Bay-go and Nonoy Dawsay and one student Lando Lalin. The Alamara said they intend to kill at least of these persons. This forced teachers to suspend the classes.
Valle called on the GRP Negotiating Panel and Pres. Duterte to stop the attacks against schools and respect the right to education of the Lumad children. “We call on them to pursue the formal peace talks with the NDFP to address the growing number of CARHRIHL violations and the substantial agenda on social and economic reforms, which should consider the indigenous people’s right to free education and to self-determination.
Human rights group Karapatan also assisted in the filing of said complaints. Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor said that “militarization in schools is being justified by the Department of Education memorandum 221 series of 2013 which allows military occupation and operations in schools.”
"This is already bad enough. We are more worried that with martial law in Mindanao, State security forces will be emboldened to commit further human rights violations and war crimes," Clamor said.