HomeNewsLumad schools accuse military of murdering yet another teacher

Lumad schools accuse military of murdering yet another teacher

A network of Lumad schools accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of killing one of its former teachers on July 27 in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

In a statement, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network said Rower Jhon Libot was on his way to General Santos City to facilitate food and medical aid for residents of Barangay Hinalaan when killed by 37th Infantry Battalion (IB) soldiers.

“[J]ust a few hours after his departure, three gunshots were heard not far from the community implying that there was no exchange of gunfire,” the network said.

In a bulletin on July 31, the army unit said a then-unidentified male person was killed in a firefight with an unidentified number of New People’s Army guerillas.

Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, 37th IB commanding officer, said the supposed firefight lasted 20 minutes.

The SOS, however, denied the AFP’s accusation that Libot was a wanted criminal as the victim had no such record. “The AFP’s claims that he faced charges since 2017 are patently untrue,’ it said, pointing out that Libot was a full-time student at the time.

The network said Libot was a volunteer teacher with the Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking Services after graduating with a Bachelor in Secondary Education Degree from the Liceo de Davao-Tagum in 2018.

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He also taught at the school for displaced Lumad children in Metro Manila.

Himself an alumnus of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Libot was also a student leader at the Liceo.

“Despite relentless harassment from military forces, he was so steadfast in learning the true situation of the Lumad people and has realized that being a teacher is a profession that will be fully exercised by teaching the true situation and giving alternatives that will really help the community such as agricultural science, food security, and environmental protection,” the SOS said.

“Rowie tirelessly facilitated medical and relief aid to highly militarized Dulangan-Manobo communities, even amidst the pandemic,” the network added.

Libot’s death is similar to the deaths of fellow Lumad school volunteer teachers Chad Errol Booc and Gelejurain Ngujo II who were killed with three others in New Bataan, Davao de Oro last February 2022, SOS said.

“[His death is] part of a horrific pattern of violence targeting indigenous educators and falsely branding them as rebels killed in a false encounter,” the network added.

SOS said it demands a full and impartial investigation into Libot’s murder.

“The Commission on Human Rights must urgently conduct an on-site probe to expose the truth and end impunity on attacks on Lumad communities and human rights defenders,” SOs said.

This article was first published by KODAO Productions

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