Archive | August 2018

Group says DepEd fails to act on attacks against Lumad schools

DAVAO CITY , Philippines — An advocacy group claimed that the Army continued to harass the operation of the Lumad schools across Mindanao and criticized on Tuesday the alleged inaction of the Department of Education on these harassments.

“[Education] Secretary [Leonor] Briones is only proving its collusion with the AFP in violating Lumad children’s right to education and self-determination,” said Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools Network Mindanao.

This is not the first time the SOS urged the DepEd to address the issue of alleged military’s persistent attacks on Lumad schools. To recall, in 2017, the group, along with the Lumad students, led a campaign to urge Briones to rescind DepEd Memorandum Order No. 221, and grant the Lumad schools a permit to operate.

SOS, in particular, had assailed the DepEd Memo 221, or the “Guidelines on the protection of children during armed conflict,” which they claimed has allowed the entry of military in schools. The assailed memo was issued in December 2013.

To date, DepEd has yet to issue a permit to Lumad schools in both Northern and Southern Mindanao as well in Socksargen regions. Even Lumad schools in Davao region,Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation (Misfi) were subjected to the same attacks— threats of closure, harassments of volunteer teachers and Lumad students.

While DepEd regional offices have yet to issue the permits, more than 100 Lumad schools have been shut down since last year after a well-coordinated attacks perpetrated by the military, the SOS said.

SOS viewed DepEd’s apparent inaction “to have the country’s national minority groups of Mindanao remain uneducated for economic plunder to continue and serve the interest of foreign mining companies and other businesses who want to exploit resources in Mindanao.”

On Tuesday, SOS led another protest action in front of the House of Representatives to register their sentiments as lawmakers are deliberating the budget of the education department.

Manilyn Gantangan, a Lumad student from Mindanao who joined the SOS-led protest, has asked DepEd as to what concrete steps the agency has done to address their problem.

“What have you done to address militarization of Lumad schools in Mindanao?,” Gantangan asked. “Education is one of the highest forms of Lumad resistance against plunder of their ancestral land and other resources, hence state forces are forcibly closing down lumad schools.”

For 2018, SOS said it documented 18 incidents that affected 4,068 individuals, 1,338 students, and 76 teachers. These harassments happened while DepEd regional offices in Mindanao refused to issue the permit to operate and certificate of recognition of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) and Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking and Services (CLANS) despite their compliance and timely submission of requirements.

Meanwhile, Salinlahi Deputy Secretary General and SOS Network Lead Convener Relita Malundras said that apart from schools, the attacks were extended to the parents of students and community members who initiated the establishment of Lumad schools in Mindanao.

Malundras cited the case of Beverly Geronimo, a PTCA member of MISFI was killed last May after she bought schools supplies for her child.

Beverly Geronimo was also among the 80 community members forced by the military to admit false accusations as a rebel returnee, she said.

She added that in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, around 1,607 individuals including students and teachers of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) and Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) were forced to evacuate homes because of the persistent military presence in their community.(davaotoday.com)

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3 farmer activists gunned down in Comval

Davao Today – Aug. 24, 2018 MARK JOY G. BASAL

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Three farmer-activists who are members of Compostela Famers Association (CFA) were shot dead in Compostela Valley by an unidentified assailant last August 21, a local farmers group reported on Friday.

Noli Villanueva, chairperson of Compostela Valley Farmers Association, identified the victims as Rolly Panebio and couple Gilbert and Jane Labial.

Rolly Panebio, 46, security staff of Salugpungan Learning Center Campus in Bango,Compostela Valley was shot dead by a motorcycle-riding gunmen at 10:30pm in Purok 24 in Bango, Compostela Valley while on his way home after his shift in the school last Saturday night.

Panebio was declared dead on arrival in the hospital.

After visiting Panebio’s wake at Alar Funeral Parlor the next day, Gilbert and Jane Labial were also shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

A barangay councilor who were with the victims at the time of the incident said that Gilbert Labial saw the assailant on their way home but were trapped and repeatedly shot by the assasins.

“The three farmers between February to March surrendered to the 66th IB detachment to ensure their safety as they were tagged as members of the NPA. They were active in the campaign against mining and militarization,” Villanueva said.

“Farmers and lumads were actively defending their lands against the entry of mining company Agusan Petroleum,” he said. “We do not have firearms. We are not NPA. Even without Martial Law, at least 10 members of the organization are in imprisoned in the provincial jail and 6 members were killed under the Duterte administration.”

Meanwhile, Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region said that there are now 87 victims of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.(davaotoday.com)

NAPC Chief Lisa Masa Reigns citing Collapse of peace talks, the rise of Arroyo, Marcoses in power

  • Liza Maza resigns as NAPC chief

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — National Anti-poverty Commission (NAPC) secretary and convenor Liza Maza has resigned on Monday, Aug. 19 because of the grim political situation in the country under the Duterte administration.

Maza cited the collapse of the peace talks between the government and the communists and the return of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Marcoses in power.

“Pinakamahalagang dahilan ng aking pagbibitiw ay ang ganap na pagkansela ni Pangulong Duterte sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) at NDFP na kanyang ipinahayag noong ika-14 ng Agosto,” Maza said, reading a prepared statement in a press conference on Monday.

Duterte’s move to cancel the GRP-NDFP peace talks has killed the people’s genuine aspiration to have a meaningful socioeconomic and political reforms, Maza said as she hit the Marcoses with Imee Marcos aligning herself with the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a local political party of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

“Kinitil nito ang natitira kong pag-asa na magbubunga ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa makabuluhang repormang sosyo-ekonomiko at pulitikal na siyang magwawakas sa laganap na kahirapan at digmaan sa ating bansa. Ito ay tanda ng ganap nang pamamayani na kontra-reporma, kontra-mahirap at militaristang kaisipan at mga patakaran sa administrasyong ito,” she said.

The former Gabriela Partylist representative also pointed out that the revival of the newly dismissed murder charges in the Nueva Ecija Palayan case with Makabayan bloc political leaders Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino and Rafael Mariano who are serving under NAPC undermines her leadership.

“I realized that the anti-reform, rightist and militarist forces of our society will continue to undermine our leadership in this agency. As such,I can no longer work under these circumstances” Maza explained.

According to Maza, the pursuit of meaningful reforms embarked in the two years of leading NAPC will be better served outside government office.

“As such, I have found it best to resume fighting from among the masses for this genuine change ,which as ever ,has been the only real way to make sure it happen,”she said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party representatives support Maza’s resignation and laud the former GWP representative in the commendable performance in NAPC.

“Despite obvious efforts to expunge her from public service, Secretary Maza served to the full extent of her abilities to reach out to marginalized sectors as NAPC lead convenor,” Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said. “But the revival of the trumped up charges against Makabayan 4, which was later junked, and the termination of the peace talks proved to be the final straw.”

De Jesus has expressed confidence that Maza’s decision to rejoin the “people’s movement” could give her “more latitude in advocating women’s rights and in pursuing socio-economic reforms which she advocated in NAPC.”

For her part, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the exit of Secretary Liza from NAPC delivers a strong message against the administration’s final efforts to sabotage the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

“By shutting all the venues for the resumption of peace negotiations, the Duterte regime has also shattered any possible opportunity to discuss the much needed genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization – socio-economic reforms which are close to Secretary Maza’s heart,” Brosas said.

Meanwhile, the Palace has expressed the regret with Maza’s decision to resign from her post.

“We always regret when people who enjoy the trust and confidence of the President leave their post. But I’m sure there will be other applicants for the post,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque said that peace talks with the communist group would resume on the local level.

“Again, we maintain that the President will only have peace talks with the Communists if it is in the Philippines, if they will stop collection of revolutionary taxes, if they will momentarily – while peace talks are ongoing – commit themselves to refrain from resuming the insurgency and will stay in a designated camp where President Duterte has promised that he will provide for their provisions during the pendency of the peace talks,” Roque added.

Maza was appointed as NAPC chief in 2016. Prior to her resignation, there were score of progressive leaders who were appointed under the Duterte administration but eventually rejected by the powerful Commission on Appointment.

Progressive leaders Judy Taguiwalo and Rafael Mariano were appointed as secretaries of the Social Welfare and Agrarian Reform departments but lawmakers rejected their appointment. (davaotoday.com)