Air strikes near ‘Lumad’ school traumatize kids
DAVAO CITY—“Lumad” school children were shaken by military air strikes which nearly hit their school in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte province earlier this week, a spokesperson of a lumad group said.
Jong Monzon, secretary general of the lumad group Pasaka in Southern Mindanao, said the Army’s 10th Infantry Division conducted air strikes in the afternoon of August 27 in the village of Dagohoy in Talaingod near a lumad school.
Pasaka, according to Monzon, was trying to determine how many bombs had been dropped in the area and how much damage it had caused.
The bombs fell just 500 meters away from Salugpungan School, where lumad children were attending classes.
Earlier, on August 25, a teacher and schoolchildren also heard gunshots that lasted 30 minutes less than 500 meters away, Monzon said.
“This traumatized teachers and students,” Monzon said.
Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said there was a clash between soldiers and communist rebels om Aug. 27 in Dagohoy.
Balagtey said the Army had to conduct air strikes to extricate wounded soldiers.
“For us to extricate them (3 wounded soldiers) we have to conduct close air support and it was precisely implemented,” he said.
Balagtey said it had never been military policy to target schools.
Monzon said Pasaka had documented 21 cases of aerial bombardments in Southern Mindanao since President Duterte assumed office.
Militant groups claimed the military had escalated attacks on lumad communities, leading to mass evacuations and abuses.
Just recently, thousands of indigenous peoples fled their homes in Surigao del Sur for fear of getting caught in the crossfire between the military and communist guerrillas.
At least 1,600 lumad from Lianga town returned to their homes only after they were given an assurance that the military was not building a detachment in their community.
The Lianga lumad residents, who had spent 23 days at an evacuation center, had been convinced to return home after Church leaders gave them assurance that soldiers were not staying permanently in their neighborhood.
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