/ 30 August 2020

AROUND 50 members of the paramilitary group called “Bagani” destroyed the school buildings of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy, a school for Lumad students in Bukidnon, Mindanao last August 26, 2020.

“The incident happened early morning around 7:15 am, as two teachers who remained in the campus were tending their farm when one of their students ran to them to alert them of the incident. The school was a 15 minute walk from their farm,” Save Our Schools Network said.

The SOS reported that Lito Gambay, leader of the Bagani group, tore some textbooks and instructional materials of the Lumad learners and threatened teachers who were about to take photos of the incident.

SOS said the paramilitary group is under the command of the 89th Infantry Battalion Bravo Company and has set up a camp about a 30-minute walk from the school.

“Students and members of the community cried out their frustration” as the two buildings and the teachers’ cottage that was built in 2007 by the European Union Aid and SFO-Overpelt of Belgium were destroyed, SOS added.

SOS has condemned the destruction of MISFI academy and the closure of several Lumad schools in Mindanao.

“The Save Our Schools condemn in strongest terms the unabated destruction and closure of Lumad schools in Mindanao. As of August 2020, around 178 Lumad schools are now forcibly closed,” the network pointed out.

The College Editor Guild of the Philippines has also denounced the incident.

“This is but a few of the many inhumane acts led by the military. Unfortunately, they continue to threaten our Indigenous People in order to strengthen their propaganda spree rampaging schools and destroying centers of education,” it said.

Despite the Covid19 crisis, almost 100 Lumad learners are residing in undisclosed evacuation centers in Metro Manila to raise concern and awareness about the continued militarization of their communities and schools.

“Nararamdaman namin ang sakit kasi marunong na kaming bumasa at sumulat pero ngayon pa nila ipinasara ang aming mga eskuwelahan,” a Lumad student said.