Lumad students reported missing are in military camp â report
The Save Our Schools Network launches a "Bakwit School" at UP Diliman to facilitate the continuity of learning of affected students from the indigenous group on Sept. 2, 2019. This was after the Department of Education issued an order suspending 54 Lumad schools in Davao.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Lumad students reported missing are in military camp — report

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - June 18, 2020 - 4:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two Lumad students who have been reported missing along with their father since last Saturday morning had been in the custody of the Army's 39th Infantry Battalion, according to a Thursday morning report by Kidapawan-based radio station DxND.

This comes after Lumad organization Save Our Schools network issued an alert on Sunday that the family, consisting of 66-year-old father Mongkel Tacalan and his two sons, aged 17 and 19, were last seen boarding a police vehicle after leaving the premises of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated (MISFI) — the school that the sons both attend.

The army unit said that the father had sought assistance from the military since his children hadn’t gone home to Sarangani province since December.

“Ayon sa pamunuan ng 39th Infantry Battalion ng Philippine Army, isang linggo nilang pinatuloy sa kanilang kampo ang dalawang mga bata kasabay ang ama nito dahil pino-proseso pa ng militar ang mga kinakailangang protocols bago sila makauwi sa Saranggani Province,” read the DxND report.

Save Our Schools in a statement has since denied this motive, accusing the military of illegal detention and calling for the release of the Tacalans.

“We demand that the Tacalans must be released immediately and the 39th IB must stop with its lies. We are angered and dismayed at how this is turning out for Lumad students, who intend to go home to their families by availing of the government’s balik probinsya program in the pandemic, but only to be subjected to the military’s exploitation and propaganda,” read the statement.

“There is no letup of attacks on Lumad schools in Mindanao even in this pandemic. The way that the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] spread lies and deception shows their utter lack of respect to the rights of the Lumad in their desire to attain education.”

The younger Tacalan son was quoted in the DxND report as saying that his welfare had not been neglected by the MISFI administration during his stay.

Faculty of the Makilala, North Cotabato-based MISFI campus had previously received a call from a family member of the students saying that they had not arrived home and could not be contacted.

This led Save Our Schools to demand that authorities bring out the Tacalans, noting similar, “systematic” incidents affecting MISFI constituents.

In four separate incidents logged by the network in May, students of MISFI schools reportedly encountered cases of coercion, threats, harassment, intimidation, interrogation, deception, and spreading of false propaganda.

According to a report obtained by Philstar.com from Save Our Schools, incidents raised include the rounding up of students by barangay officials, government personnel and military for questioning and other reasons.

In one case, a minor had allegedly been labeled as a “child at risk” on a military social media page with her private address exposed publicly on social media.

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