“We ask for the intervention of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on this matter as he has committed to work for the welfare of the lumads in their right to education and to just peace in their ancestral communities.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – On World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5, various groups called for the release of a teacher and a staff of a Lumád school, who, they said, are being detained on fabricated criminal charges.
In a protest at the Department of Justice along Padre Faura street and later in Mendiola, groups called on President Duterte to intervene on the case of Amelia Pond and Dominiciano Muya, both of the Lumád alternative school, Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Learning Center (STTICLC).
The continued detention of Pond and Muya depicts the plight of political prisoners and repression of educators in the country, said the International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS-Philippines). Pond is detained in Davao del Norte, while Muya is in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
Pond, 64, is an STTICLC teacher and researcher and regional coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP-Southern Mindanao Region). Police arrested her on Aug. 19 in Cebu City as she came out of RMP’s national assembly. Her companions saw the arresting policeman from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group insert into her bag two fake ID cards bearing the name “Adelfa Toledo” who was wanted for murder and double murder cases.
“Her plight speaks of the injustice on Filipino educators, the continuing discrimination and oppression of indigenous peoples, and the more than 500 political prisoners illegally incarcerated in the country,” ILPS-Phils Chairperson Elmer Labog said. Labog is also the chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
Muya is a volunteer agriculturist of RMP, and used to teach agriculture as an elective for Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) in STTICLC. He was arrested at a police checkpoint in Tagum City, Davao del Norte on October 17, 2014, and was presented by the military as a top-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) with a P4.8 million bounty.
“Schools of the Lumád people are being targeted by the military and paramilitary forces in a US-backed counter-insurgency program. President Duterte would do well to review this program as he weans away from the US and pursues an independent foreign policy,” said Labog in a statement.
Labog cited the harassment on teachers Jun Villasurda and Chavez Paterno of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. Academy (MISFI Academy) in Tapak village, Paquibato District, Davao City. Members of the paramilitary group Alamara threatened to kill the teachers and burn the school.
The Association of Community Educators (ACE-Mindanao) joined the call to free Pond and Muya, as they condemned the continued harassment on community teachers of Lumád schools.
The group called on the Department of Education and its Indigenous People’s Education Office (IPSEO) to act to protect the Lumád school teachers.
“We ask for the intervention of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on this matter as he has committed to work for the welfare of the lumads in their right to education and to just peace in their ancestral communities,” ACE-Mindanao said in a statement.