Save our Schools: End human rights abuses against Manobo communities!
The Save our Schools Network vehemently condemned the 68th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army and its para-military group Alamara for their multiple human rights violations in the communities of Manobos in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
According to the Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC), a learning center providing educational services for the Manobo children and youth of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, there are recent cases of rights abuses in their schools and communities.
The Salugpongan school in Sitio Laslasakan, Palma Gil was ransacked by elements of the 68th IB, PA and the Alamara group, causing much harm to students and teachers. The military slept inside the school building and tampered with the teachers’ teaching tools. While the Salugpongan students and teachers in Sitio Nasilaban experienced the same terror, when the soldiers successively fired near Nasilaban Elementary School and high school campus of STTICLC and their school farm from October 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17. The Salugpongan school in Sitio Nasilaban is just across the camp of the 68th IB, forcing the teachers to suspend classes due to so much fear and shock the firing sprees has caused. The teachers and school management of STTICLC decided to temporarily halt classes in Sitio Nasilaban and instead, resume classes for Nasilaban students on their main campus in Sitio Dulyan, so as not to disrupt students’ learning and development while the military are wreaking havoc in their sitio.
Madella Santiago, the spokesperson of Save our Schools network said, “While they have yet to recover from the bitter experience, when they forcibly evacuated last March 2014 due to the intense military operations, they are again facing the ruthlessness of the Aquino government’s internal peace and security plan aka Oplan Bayanihan.”
“These acts are not acts of protecting the people but are blatant violations of international instruments and local policies that should be ended!” continued Santiago.
Santiago cited the six (6) grave child rights violations stated in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, which explicitly mentioned that the 4th Geneva Convention’s prohibition of targeting civilian objects, especially schools and health infrastructures.
Santiago also mentioned that the network’s plans of conducting the cultural caravan of (13) Manobo children and their teachers from Talaingod, Davao del Norte are affected due to continued harassments the Manobo communities are experiencing. The cultural caravan will depict the lives and struggles of Manobo people which will go around different schools/ universities and government agencies, commencing on the 3rd of November until the 3rd of December this year.
The Save our Schools network called on the Aquino government to hear the cries of Manobo people, as well as other indigenous groups who are similarly experiencing military abuses. “We need to unite and support our Manobo brothers and sisters, we need to strengthen our efforts and calls so that Pres. Aquino would hear us. He should not tolerate the violence that his military is doing and pull them out of schools and communities. More so, he should put an end to the atrocious Oplan Bayanihan if he really is upholding children’s rights,” Santiago concluded. ###