STATEMENT: Classes in National Literacy Awardee schools threatened by militarization

On November 4, 2007 at around 3:15 in the afternoon, about 30 elements belonging to the 58th IB, PA arrived at Manluy-a, Diatagon, Surigao del Sur.  Said elements stopped at the Manluy-a Tribal Filipino Community School and interrogated two (2) TRIFPSS Inc. teachers regarding their salaries, who supported the school and what grade they are teaching. The same questions were asked from community members residing near the school.

On November 5, 2007 at around 12:27 midnight, an unknown number of military men arrived at the neighboring community of Simowao. The teachers of Simowao Tribal School were waken up by soldiers asking for sleeping accommodations at the Simowao Tribal School. On the morning of the same date, pupils aging between 7-10 year-old who attended classes were interrogated if they have seen men bringing guns and if they have elder brothers or sisters who has joined the New People’s Army (NPA). The soldiers listed the names of the pupils.

On November 10, 2007 at around 3:00 dawn, an additional group of soldiers arrived at Simowao. Without the permission of the community and the teachers-in-charge they stayed and slept at the Simowao Tribal Filipino Community School. The military elements only informed the teachers in the morning. Said soldiers then interrogated the teachers on who and what are the connections of school, the salaries of the teachers and who supports the school. For the whole day the military men rested and attended to their personal activities at the school.

Military personnel who lived in the houses of residents frequently ask questions to the children on their involvement with the New People’s Army. Children were asked if they have elder brothers or sisters that joined the NPA and that they must surrender.

The students and parents have expressed fear in continuing to go to school as children walk for miles to the school and they are afraid of the military men scattered in the community.  Teachers have also expressed fear.

In 2005, the same lumad communities have been subjected to days of continuous bombings which prompted the residents to evacuate and the schools to be closed.  Residents were tortured and cases of enforced disappearances and death were reported and cases filed with no justice given to the victims. (Karapatan Surigao del Sur)

For Reference, contact: Rev. Modesto Villasanta Or Atty. Antonio Azarcon