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

    114

    Help pressure the Philippine Government to pull out security forces in Compostella Valley

    UA Case :

    Attacks on or Use of Schools for Military Purposes;
    Endangerment of Civilians;
    Threat, harassment and intimidation;
    Violation of Domiciles

    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 – Southern Mindanao Region (RMP-SMR) 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.cominfo@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/