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Classes in open spaces for Surigao ‘lumad’ kids

12:20 AM September 12, 2015

DAVAO CITY—Classes for hundreds of “lumad” children in Surigao del Sur, who were displaced by the series of violence involving paramilitary groups since Sept. 1, would resume in Tandag City on Monday although not in regular classrooms, but in open spaces.

Eliza Pangilinan, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan in the Caraga region, said her group and others would start setting up the areas needed for classes to resume to stop the further disruption of the lumad children’s education.

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“We will set this up after those who were killed had been brought to their final resting places so that the children can continue with their studies,” Pangilinan said.

The spaces that Karapatan is preparing could accommodate at least 800 students and would be manned by teachers coming from the nine schools affected by the militia attacks.

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Currently, at least 2,890 displaced residents from the towns of Lianga, Marihatag, San Agustin, San Miguel and Tago are staying at a sports complex in Tandag City to flee the militia rampage and an ongoing military operation in the areas.

Three people, including the head of an alternative learning school, had been killed in one of the attacks.

Majority of the displaced lumads came from the village of Diatagon, where Magahat-Bagani forces had been accused of killing Emerito Samarca, the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev). Samarca was found tied with a stab wound and his throat slit open inside a classroom on Sept. 1.

After killing Samarca, the armed men shot lumad datu Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo, while the entire village watched in horror.

Campos was a community leader and the chair of the indigenous peoples’ group, Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod, which is known for its firm position for the protection of ancestral lands and its campaign against human rights violations targeting indigenous people.

The Magahat-Bagani, which was allegedly created, trained, armed and funded by the military, also razed to the ground the building of a community cooperative not far from the school compound.

The Save Our Schools Network said the attack “clearly showed (the military’s) contempt toward self-determined development asserted by indigenous communities” most especially against Alcadev, which won the National Literacy Award in 2001 and 2005 and was a finalist in 2014.

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Pangilinan said the displaced children needed school supplies because when they evacuated with their parents, they carried only a few pieces of personal belongings. Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: group, groups, human, Karapatan, lumad, Magahat-Bagani, paramilitary, rights, Surigao del Sur, Tandag City, Violence
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