Stop Attacking Indigenous Schools, Pull Out Military Troops in Mindanao!

Posted on 7 September 2015

IBON International statement on the murder of ALCADEV head, indigenous leaders in Surigao del Sur

7 September 2015

Photo Credit: Arkibongbayan

IBON International strongly denounces the killings of Emerito “Emok” Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Agricultural Development (ALCADEV), Dionel Campos, chairperson of an indigenous peoples organization in his community along with his cousin Bello Sinzo. We express our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones. We find these vile acts of murder beyond inhumane, and representative of the state of terror perpetrated by the same government forces who swore to protect its people.

On the morning of September 1 st, Emerito “Emok” Samarca was found dead in the very same classroom he helped build for the Lumad children of Lianga, Surigao del Sur—his throat was slit, stab wounds in his neck and stomach, his hands and feet were tied.

Some three kilometers from the site, Dionel and Bello were strafed dead by elements of Magahat/BAGANI – a paramilitary group armed by and operating under the command of the 36 th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. The executions were witnessed by hundreds of residents, teachers and students of ALCADEV who were forced out of their homes and dormitories by armed militiamen.

ALCADEV is one of the many learning institutions built by the indigenous peoples themselves with the help of NGOs and faith-based groups. In addition to literacy and numeracy learning programs, these indigenous schools offer transformative and culturally relevant education that liberates students and entire communities from decades of oppression and corporate plunder of their ancestral lands. These schools serve the poorest indigenous families who, for the longest time have been deprived of their right to education and basic social services. Military attacks and other cases of harassment have been reported in hundreds of indigenous alternative schools in the region including the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) campuses that are being supported in part through IBON International’s Adopt-a-School program.

The intensified military operations in Mindanao have left entire Lumad communities with no choice but to evacuate to the cities and leave their ancestral lands behind. Under the Aquino regime, 68 indigenous peoples have been slain. This brings to 279 the total number of documented cases of extrajudicial killings since Aquino’s presidency in 2010. [1]

These attacks are carried out under the auspices of the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program – Oplan Bayanihan. The implementation of Executive Order 546 has resulted in the increase of paramilitary groups and private armies under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) [2]. In the same vein, since the adoption of the AFP directive 25 – an order allowing military units to conduct its operations inside schools and hospitals, attacks against indigenous schools have alarmingly increased [3].  Oplan Bayanihan is patterned after the United States Counter-Insurgency Plan (COIN) [4] in its use of civil-military and psywar operations. It serves as a legal instrument to extend the US “War on Terror” in the Philippines. In fact, the AFP has deployed a total of 55 army battalions in the

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