Soldiers block solidarity mission team in Davao del Norte
DAVAO CITY — A convoy of five vehicles that rescued children from a Lumad school recently padlocked by the paramilitary group Alamara was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
Members of the rescue team included former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and Pia Malayao of Katribu.
Meggie Nolasco, executive director of Salugpongan community schools, said soldiers belonging to the 56th Infantry Battalion (IB) first stopped the team at a military checkpoint in Sitio Igang around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The team was later allowed to move but was blocked again when they reached Barangay Santo Niño around 9:35 p.m.
Nolasco said the mission was organized after the 56th IB and Alamara members blocked on November 25 the entry of food to Barangay Palma Gil.
Nolasco said Alamara also padlocked the Dulyan campus of Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc. (STTICLCI) around 6 p.m. Wednesday, prompting them to rush and rescue the children.
“About 15 to 20 members of the Alamara were seen loitering around the school’s vicinity, harassing the students, teachers and locals, prompting the volunteer teachers to seek a safe sanctuary,” Nolasco said.
A statement from the group said unknown perpetrators threw nail spikes on the road to deflate the wheels of two of the five vans. It added that while the wheels were being replaced, broken glasses were thrown at another van; and two riding in tandem wearing masks also fired gunshots.
The group said their convoy of five vans that rescued children and teachers were eventually held at Barangay Sto. Niño, and interrogated by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.
The group also said licenses of their drivers were unlawfully taken.
“We condemn this move of the military. Clearly this is a form of harassment mean to delay the delivery of goods and services in the lumad community school,” Nolasco told the Inquirer by phone. /kga
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