No more classes

Killings force 243 students into abandoning 4 IP schools
CLASSES have been suspended in the four tribal schools in Talaingod, Davao del Norte since Jan. 18 after the death of 15-year-old Lumad student, the Save Our School (SOS) Network reported.

Ronie Garcia, the basic education principal of Salugpongan schools, said the teachers and students of Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center schools in Sitios Laslasakan, Nalubas and Panga-an in Barangay Palma Gil, and Sitio Pongpong in Barangay Dagohoy decided to stay away after the killing of Alibando Tingkas.

Based on the report of the SOS Network, the suspension of classes in Talaingod has affected 243 students.

Tingkas, grade 3 Manobo student, his brother Romy, 30, and their uncle, Idol Maas, 25, were walking home when they were fired on by Alamara member Joven Salangani. Tingkas died from two shots to the chest while his brother and uncle survived by jumping off a cliff.

“It is sad that this is happening.  But the community and the teachers have to protect the children. The Alamara has gotten bolder,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, they have received reports from teachers that the Alamara has been harassing their teachers since December.

“There were threats from one Alamara member issued to teachers in Barangay Palma Gil since December,” said Garcia adding that “and recently, an Alamara issued a threat last Saturday to teachers in Sitio Tibucag that all teachers and students will be massacred because of their members was killed.”

Garcia also urged the government officials in the province and local agencies to act on the issue and protect the welfare of the teachers and students.

“We believe that no child or Lumad community should suffer from such terror,” he added. “The Alamara and the AFP’s presence hampers the dreams of every Lumad in Talaingod and any other places to achieve education, literacy and protection of the indigenous culture and social practices and their right to ancestral land and right to self-determination.”

But the army is blaming the New People’s Army for the violent incidents in Talingod, Davao del Norte.

Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said Tingkas was a “collateral damage” of a tribal war, instigated by the NPA.

 “Donato was killed by the NPAs coming from the other tribe,” he said. “So the family of Donato retaliated but unfortunately, the first person they saw was the teenager.”

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will investigate the alleged involvement of the Alamara on the death of Tingkas.

“The investigators will go to the area to conduct an in-depth investigation if we could assure the security of the investigators because Tingkas was reportedly a victim of pangayaw,” CHR officer-in-charge Joy T. Montero said, referring to clan wars.

She said the agency received pieces of information from Datu Ugkang and barangay councilor Juan Intot, although she said the perpetrators were not identified.

Meanwhile, Rius Valle, spokesperson of SOS Southern Mindanao, also said government officials should act to uphold the students’ rights to education.

“The government is a signatory of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Children (UNCRC) that ensure the protection of children from attacks on schools and of their right to education. What the Alamara is doing now is a direct attack to the Talaingod children’s rights,” said Valle.