Military occupies community-based school in Compostela town, Compostela Valley province, Philippines

UA Case :
  • Attacks on or Use of Schools for Military Purposes;
  • Endangerment of Civilians;
  • Threat, harassment and intimidation;
  • Violation of Domicile

Victim/s:
  • 230 pupils and 5 teachers of Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC), a community-based school of Matigsalog indigenous people accredited by the Department of Education
  • 51 households near the STTICLC

Place of Incident :
At the school building of the STTICLC at 4B, Mangayon village, municipality of Compostela, province of Compostela Valley

Date of Incident:    From January 25 to 28, 2014

Alleged Perpetrator(s):
More than 30 elements of the Delta Company - 25th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army lead by Lt. Heruben Romare. The soldiers were in full combat gear and armed with high-powered rifles.

Account of the Incident:

On January 25, 2014, more than 30 members of the Delta Company, 25th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) arrived in Barangay Mangayon, Compostela, a village inhabited mostly by Matigsalog tribe. The soldiers, in full combat gear and armed with high-powered guns, camped at the community’s school, the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC).

The STTICLC is a community based school which was established with the help of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and the Matigsalog tribe. In 2012, the school house was destroyed by typhoon Pablo/Bopha. The residents were able to reconstruct their school buildings and homes with the help of several people’s organizations. The school, now under the administration of the STTICLC, Inc., is accredited by the Department of Education to provide formal education for indigenous people.

The school’s administrators and community leaders asked the soldiers to leave the school house, but Lt. Heruben Romare insisted to stay, claiming they would be conducting a Peace and Development Outreach Program in the community.

With the soldiers using the school house as barracks, where they sleep and cook their meals, the classes for the 230 pupils were suspended. The children and their teachers were afraid of the military. Karapatan also received reports that the military forcibly entered several homes near the school and threatened some of the pupils and teachers.

On January 28, 2014, a quick response team went to the community. The team was composed of Save our Schools Network (SOS), Compostela Farmers Association (CFA), Bulig Alang sa Mindanao (Balsa/Help for Mindanao), Pasaka (an alliance of Lumad organizations Lumad in Southern Mindanao), Science and Aternative Technology for Rural Development (SALT-RD) together with the Southern Mindanao chapters of Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. The team and the village leaders held a dialogue with the members of the 25th IB and demanded that they vacate the school and leave their community.

The military left the community after the dialogue, three days after they occupied the said school, only to set-up camp near the community. Matigsalog people believe that the presence of armed soldiers nearby continue to endanger them and their children.

On January 29, classes resumed at the STTICLC, though students and community members remain under constant threat.

UA Date:  29 January 2014

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  1. For the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other security forces of the State, to pull out from the communities, and to stop using the following as military camps, detachments or outposts that endanger the civilian population: inside or in the immediate vicinity of schools, day care centers, learning and education facilities; hospitals and clinics; places of worship or convents, barangay halls and other public places.
  2. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the occupation of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) by the members of the 25th Infantry Battalion.
  3. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which endanger and victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
  4. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.


You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph
http://www.president.gov.ph/contact-us-2/

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
stqd.papp@opapp.net
http://www.opapp.gov.ph/directory

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Segundo Ave. Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com,  info@dnd.gov.ph
http://www.dnd.gov.ph/contact-us.html

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com
http://www.doj.gov.ph/

Hon.  Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email:   chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com
http://www.chr.gov.ph/


Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

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