10ID says soldiers did not encamp in Lumad school

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 August) – Soldiers did not occupy a Lumad school in a village in New Bataan town, Compostela Valley over the weekend, the 10th Infantry Division said in a statement Tuesday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10ID Public Affairs Office chief said the accusation against the 67th Infantry Battalion was “unfounded, baseless, and malicious” as the concerned area is already outside its area of operations.

The 10ID was reacting to a Facebook post by the Save Our Schools Network on Sunday that “several soldiers from both 66th and 67th IB stayed and encamped within the community  which was just about 10 meters away from Salugpongan School in Purok 3, Barangay Panansalan, Compostela Town, Compostela Valley Province.”

“The students and teachers were anxious and fears further harassment from the soldiers since they’ve learned about the illegal arrest and detention of Salugpongan Teacher and Researcher Amelia Pond last August 19,” the post said.

But Batchar admitted there were personnel of the 66th IB who stayed in Purok 3, Panansalan.

He said Purok chair Artemio Magno allowed the soldiers to stay in the place but not in the houses and school.

He added the 66th IB provided some documents signed by Purok chair Rex Basta and Purok secretary Nerisa Gollodo of Sitio Bongloy, Brgy. Pagsabangan that troops were allowed to enter the sitio but denied that they occupied the Salugpongan School.

He said the 66IB stayed 100 meters away from the Salugpongan school.

“As we have always said, the 10ID welcomes reports against our troops and encourages those who were victimized to file their complaints in appropriate agencies as we do not tolerate any misbehavior by our soldiers,” he said.

He said issues against the military should “go beyond mere propaganda by filing charges against our misbehaving troops, so that we can purge our ranks of misfits.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)