Karapatan hits military encampment in Compostela school

"The recent military encampment in a school in Compostela province in Mindanao shows that the guidelines of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) are being used to justify rights violations against children and communities,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, in the light of reports from human rights workers in the region that soldiers were occupying a school in Mangyon Village, municipality of Compostela, province of Compostela Valley disrupting the classes of 230 children.  Salugpungan Ta TanuIgkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) is a self-help community based school of Matigsalog indigenous people with 230 students and five teachers. It was on January 25, 2014 when members of the Delta Company of the 25th IBPA headed by Lt. Heruben Romare came to the area and occupied the community of the Matigsalog tribe. The soldiers who encamped in the STTICLC were in full battle gear and armed with high-powered rifles. 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. 

Karapatan received the report a day after it released a statement opposing Department of Education Memorandum 221 and AFP Letter Directive 25, which still allows the presence of AFP in schools through civil-military activities and operations. [Please see statement through this link: https://www.karapatan.org/AFP%2C+DepEd+engage+in+doubletalk+in+guidelines+on+military+activities+in+schools+to+justify+AFP+attacks+vs+children+-+Karapatan] 

"A school being used as barracks by soldiers in full battle gear with long fire arms disrupting the classes of children: This is what the Dep Ed Memo 221  and AFP Letter Directive 25 looks like in the field," Palabay said. 

A team composed of various human rights organization and advocates responded to the situation and together with the village leaders they held a dialogue with members of the 25th IB to demand to leave the school and their community. The military left after the dialogue, but set-up a camp at the periphery of the community.  The Matigsalog people are still in constant threat with the presence of soldiers nearby. 

"So much for these guidelines! That the DepEd memo and AFP guidelines allow soldiers to enter schools basically abets the continuous rights violations among children and communities. They are putting children and their families in the line of fire," Palabay concluded.###