MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 January) — Schools for Lumads in four sitios of Talaingod, Davao del Norte have closed after the killing last Jan. 17 of a student, the Save Our Schools Network in Southern Mindanao said in a press release Tuesday.
Citing a report from the Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, SOS said villagers, teachers and students were forced to leave the communities for fear of more attacks from the paramilitary group Alamara.
Witnesses pointed to Alamara member Joven Salangani as the alleged killer of Alibando Tingkas, a 15-year old studen who was shot dead in Sitio Laslasakan, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod last Jan. 17.
“It is sad that this is happening. But the community and the teachers have to protect the children. The Alamara has gotten bolder,” SOS Network quooted Ronie Garcia, the basic education principal of Salugpongan schools, as having said.
Classes were suspended in the schools located in Sitio Laslasakan, Sitio Nalubas and Sitio Panga-an of Brgy. Palma Gil and Sitio Pongpong of Barangay Dagohoy since Jan. 18.
Garcia said they have received reports from teachers that the Alamara has been hounding teachers since December.
“There were threats from one Alamara member issued to teachers in Brgy. Palma Gil since December,” he said. “And recently, an Alamara issued a threat last Saturday to teachers in Sitio Tibucag that all teachers and students will be massacred because one of their members was killed.”
A member of the Ata-Manobo Tribal Council of Elders of Talaingod denied that Alamara members killed Tingkas.
In an interview on Tuesday last week, Datu Lumansad Sibogan said Tingkas was killed during a “pangayaw” or tribal war in Sitio Laslasakan.
He said Tingkas, his grandson, was killed by Joven Salangani who took revenge against the victim’s family after his uncle, Donato Salangani, was killed by alleged members of the New Peoples’ Army on the same day.
But Kaylo Bontulan, council member of Salugpongan, said in a statement on Jan. 22 that Sibogan, the military and Commission on Human Rights in Region 11 claimed that Tingkas was killed in a pangayaw to cover up “militarization” in the area.
Bontulan said the Alamara is being used by the military for counterinsurgency, a claim the military has denied.
Meanwhile, SOS Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rius Valle urged government to disband and pull out the Alamara so that classes can resume.
“The government is a signatory of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Children (UNCRC) that ensures 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. (MindaNews)