Press Release 
August 30, 2017

Reference:  Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
                        Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

Warrants of arrest out vs Lumad volunteer teachers 

“In a display of increasing State fascism, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 (MBLT 2) has lodged trumped-up charges of murder and frustrated murder against volunteer teachers of the Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services, Inc (CLANS) Community School and members of the school’s parent-teacher community association. State security forces are employing their dirty maneuvers yet again, using the law to falsely prosecute those who have pledged their lives to serve communities long neglected by the government,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

According to a press release by CLANS, warrants are already out against volunteer-teachers Jolita Tolino, Cheryl Tolino, Alma Salaya, Junifer Tuwan, Antoinette Kampair, and Gina Ciano, and seven other Parent-Teacher Community Association members. Because of this series of attacks against schools and its teachers, thirty-three (33) CLANS community schools serving at least 1, 328 Lumad children in South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental were forced to close.

Palabay cited that this has long been the practice of the government. “This is how political prisoners have steadily increased during the Duterte regime. Teachers and Lumad school researcher Amy Pond and Dominiciano Muya were illegally arrested using the same tactic. These volunteer teachers should be celebrated for trying to fill in the gap of providing educational services to indigenous communities. They should be supported, not hunted down,” she said. 

Karapatan’s secretary general added that “if there’s anyone that should be put to jail, it is the elements of the MBLT 2, the military, the police, and members of the local government who have perpetrated rights violations against several communities in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat. The LGU, the MBLT 2 and other State security forces have long colluded with the rich Consunji clan to usurp the ancestral lands of the Dulangan Manobo for logging and mining operations. These fascists have long been responsible for killings, disappearances and other forms of rights abuses in Sultan Kudarat.”

“This is infuriating, especially at a time where bloodthirsty fascist pigs are promoted to higher positions while volunteer teachers are being labeled as criminals.This legal offensive is part of the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan in its desperation to demoralize communities and prevent them from asserting their rights. These attacks have exponentially increased after the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, a stark indication that such militarist policies have only caused further peril to people’s rights,” Palabay said.  

“We condemn these attacks and demand for the immediate withdrawal of the trumped-up charges against the volunteer teachers of CLANS and others named in the warrant of arrest. The Duterte regime should instead busy itself with purging its own State security forces who have long been instruments of State repression, instead of weaving lies that target innocent and devoted community teachers. Such cheap ploys should be immediately dismissed,” concluded Palabay.

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org 
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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.