“Even children are not spared anymore.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A 15-year-old Lumad student was killed in Talaingod, Davao del Norte Jan. 17 by alleged members of a paramilitary group, the Save our Schools Network said.
Alibando Tingkas, 15, a third grade student of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in Talaingod, was with two adult companions when they were fired upon by members of the Alamara in sitio Laslasakan, Palma Gil village, Talaingod when and his two adult companions were fired upon by members of Alamara.
Tingkas sustained two gunshot wounds in his chest. He is the 29th child victim of extrajudicial killing under President Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, the network said.
“We are enraged and saddened by this incident. The paramilitary group and their military cohorts will not stop from attacking and even killing Lumad in the name of their counter-insurgency operations, even children are not spared anymore” said Rius Valle, spokesperson of the SOS Network in Southern Mindanao.
A Salugpongan teacher in sitio Laslasakan asked community members to check on Tingkas and his companions when they heard the gunshots. A big contingent came to retrieve Tingkas’ remains.
Residents identified the perpetrator as a certain Joven Salangani, a member of Alamara but they have yet to confirm whether he was alone or with a group, said Valle. The sub-village is a known “territory” of both the paramilitary group Alamara and the 68th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The plight of the Lumad was brought to national and international public attention when two tribal leaders and the head of Alternative Learning Center Agricultural and Livelihood Development were killed last Sept. 1, 2015. But the harassment and the killings continue even during the Manilakbayan.
Valle said the AFP and their paramilitary group did not stop from threatening and harassing tribal communities even during Christmas holidays.
“And now, they are desperately trying to quell the growing Lumad resistance by killing innocent children, their future leaders and defenders,” he said.
In a statement, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Obispo Maximo assailed the killing of Tingkas as “barbaric” and “very unchristian.”
The League of Filipino Students said that while they grieve, they are determined to end human rights violations committed against the Lumad.
“This is beyond despicable. In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Aquino government for the worsening human rights crisis in Mindanao. Through the AFP and its paramilitary groups, the regime continues to spread havoc and fear,” LFS National Chairperson Charisse Bañez said.