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Party-list Solon Condemns Military Harassment of School and Community in Compostela Valley

26 March 2012 No Comment

NEWS RELEASE

March 26, 2012

Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817)

Party-list Solon Condemns Military Harassment of School and Community in Compostela Valley


ACT Teachers Party-list Representative Antonio L. Tinio denounced a unit of the Philippine Army for harassing residents in a remote village in Compostela Valley.

 

Villagers from Barangay Tibagon in Pantukan have reported that they were being harassed by members of the Philippine Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion. According to the case they filed with the Commission on Human Rights, the residents were forced to admit that they were members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. One of the victims was Maria Lou Lambo, a pre-school teacher. The military, led by a certain Sergeant Macalanda, tried to make her admit that their school, accredited by the barangay and the Department of Education, was established by the NPA. Lambo’s firm statements of denial triggered outrage from the soldiers who resorted to cursing her and other people of the village.

 

Tinio denounced the harassment by the military of teachers and students in remote barangays, citing similar incidents involving the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Lumad Development in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and the Blaan Literacy School and Learning Center (BLSLC) in Malapatan, Saranggani. “We strongly condemn the Armed Forces of the Philippines for targeting schools in their counterinsurgency operations, in gross violation of international humanitarian law. Hands off! Leave these schools alone!”

Tinio noted that the targeting of schools in remote mountain communities with largely indigenous populations was linked to the national government’s aggressive promotion of large-scale mining. “In Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, student attendance at the Balabag Primary School dropped in half due to harassment by AFP paramilitaries working for the Canadian mining firm TVIRD, which is trying to start gold mining operations in Sitio Balabag, whose residents are primarily indigenous Subanen.”

 

The legislator further pointed out that teachers have also been victims of extrajudicial executions by suspected state security forces. Last month, Loida Pagatpat, a teacher in Masbate was attacked by two armed men. Pagatpat was gunned down inside a classroom and in front of her students. She sustained two fatal gunshot wounds to the head. Pagatpat was earlier accused by the military of supporting the New People’s Army. She is already the third teacher killed in Masbate under the Aquino administration. He explained that a number of activist teachers have been murdered along with hundreds of others, including Vitoria Samonte of Bislig, Surigao del Sur in 2005 and Napoleon Pornasdoro of Lucena, Quezon in 2006, both of whom were regional leaders of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. “I am urging legislators and other human rights advocates to help seek justice for victims of extra-judicial killings. The Aquino administration must do more to end impunity,” Tinio noted. #

 

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