100 teachers, students blocked in Talaingod

By Rhealyn C. Pojas,

28 September 2015

OVER a 100 teachers, students, and members of a progressive group were
allegedly blocked on Monday by the military and some members of
paramilitary group recognized by the lumads while on their way to a
school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte to attend a founding anniversary
and festival.

Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in Southern Mindanao Spokesperson Rius
Valle said in a phone interview with Sun.Star Davao that 116 persons
including 44 elementary and high school students were not able to reach
the Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center since they
were blocked by the military and members of the paramilitary group whom
they recognized were allegedly armed with bows, spears, and bolos.

They were allegedly blocked at Sitio Daligdigon, Barangay Dagohoy in
Talaingod at the checkpoint of the 68th Infantry Batallion of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines.

Valle said that their group ventured into the school to attend its 11th
founding anniversary on Wednesday and celebrated the Bwalawan Festival
set today.

Valle added that they were forced to stay at a church in Talaingod for
the mean time due to the incident while they were negotiating with the
authorities but they will have to go to Tagum City to find a place to
stay for the night to ensure their security.

The group also negotiated with the Municipal Tribal Council headed by
Pilar Libayao so that they may be allowed entry in the area, however,
the council did not let them pass through the checkpoint since they do
not have a Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), Valle told Sun.Star Davao
explaining further that they do not have to show such document since
they were not there to do business or harm the ancestral domain of the
lumads but simply to attend the school event.

An FPIC is a “policy of the state that no concession, license, permit or
lease, production-sharing agreement, or other undertaking affecting
ancestral domains will be granted or renewed without going through the
process laid down by law and the revised guidelines,” according to

“We are just asserting our rights to travel as citizens of this country
without intentions of doing harm but simply to attend the activity of a
private-ran school,” Valle explained in the vernacular.

The group then resorted to seek the help of Pilar’s son Talaingod Mayor
Basilio Libayao to ask for assistance regarding their situation but
Valle said that they were only able to meet the Mayor’s secretary who
conveyed a message to them saying that the mayor ordered to tell the
group that they shall coordinate with the Municipal Tribal Council since
it is within the council’s jurisdiction to deal with matters of
ancestral domain.

Their group returned to the area where the rest of the participants had
been allegedly halted by the paramilitary.

Valle told Sun.Star Davao Monday that they did not intend to go back to
Davao City but they will continue to conduct a negotiation with the
group who blocked them until they will be allowed entry into the school.

Acting Spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division Lieutenant Alexandre
Caballes told Sun.Star Davao that the alleged members of the
paramilitary that the progressive groups and the rest of the
participants are pertaining to were actually a group of Bagani,
protector of the rights of the lumads in their communities, who
established their own checkpoint in the area so that they could keep
track of people who might cause a stir in their communities.