Talaingod 18 bypassed tribal council, tribal leader says

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 December) — The group of  ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Bayan Muna President Satur Ocampo bypassed the authority of the Talaingod Tribal Council when it conducted its National Solidarity Mission without seeking the Council’s approval, tribal leader Bae Pilar Libayao said.

In her affidavit executed at the Municipal Police Statio of Talaingod on November 29, Libayao said the Mission members “did not ask any permission from my office as the Municipal Tribal Leader of Talaingod and IP Mandatory Representative.”

Castro,Ocampo, four Protestant pastors and 12 others are facing charges of trafficking, kidnapping and child abuse when they attempted to transport 14 minors out of Talaingod, a move the Mission members claimed to be a rescue of the children from alleged harassment of a paramilitary group.

The group’s lawyer, Joel Mahinay of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said his clients responded to the distress call of volunteer teachers and Lumad children who fled after the paramilitary group Alamara allegedly shut down the Salugpongan community school in Sitio Dulyan, Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte.

Libayao, however, argued that Ocampo’s group should have coordinated and sought the approval of the Municipal Tribal Office.

“This is the mandate of our Municipal Tribal Office that different sectors, organizations and other agencies from government or private must secure a clearance from the office of the MTO and IP Mandatory Representative of all barangays if they have activities to do so,” she stressed.

Datu Banao Bubunan, IP Mandanatory Representative, of Barangay Palma Gil said he had “no knowledge” about the Mission’s activity on November 28.

Totoy Loyod, a resident of Upper Dolian, Barangay Palma Gil, the same town also said that group “did not ask permission regarding the transport of my daughter Jonelyn from Talaingod to Maco.”

Loyod said he went to the Salugpongan community school in Sitio Dulyan on November 24 to fetch her daughter Jorelyn because he wanted to bring her daughter back home but to no avail.

“The volunteer teachers did not allow me to talk to my daughter. Instead, they told me that they will bring my daughter to UCCP Davao for they are preparing for a mass rally and they wanted my daughter to join the activity,” he added.

Upon learning the situation of her daughter, Loyod said he sought the help of the Philippine Army’s 56THInfantry Battalion to rescue the victim. (Mart Sambalud / MindaNews)