ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro on Sunday challenged Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to come visit a Lumad school with her and see for himself how academically excellent the students are.
Castro made the call in response to Albayalde’s statement that the Lumad school she and former Bayan Muna party-list Representative Satur Ocampo were supposedly bringing a group of minors to taught different material.
“Ang sasabihin ko lang sayo, Albayalde, hinahamon kita, sinasamahan kita sa isang Lumad school, at mag-observe ka doon kung ano ang itinuturo at makikita mo kung gaano kagagaling ang mga estudyante ng mga Lumad school,” Castro said in a press conference in Quezon City.
In a Super Radyo dzBB interview on Saturday, Albayalde claimed that when they talked to the Lumad, they said the lessons being taught to them were different, and that even the national anthem was different.
“Nahuli po ‘yan [Satur Ocampo] sa checkpoint. Most likely natimbre po ‘yan dahil merong sinasama na minors, dinadala sa isang Lumad school. Dito dinadala ang mga Lumad at iba ang itinuturo,” he said.
“Nung nakausap natin ang mga Lumad, sabi nila kahit na ‘yung Pambansang Awit iba ang itinuturo. Pinipilit po nilang isama sa school na ‘yan, 14 minors para mag-aral kuno pero iba po ang tinuturo,” he added.
Castro, however, said that this allegation from the police and the military is nothing new.
“Lumang kwento na ‘yan ng mga pulis at mga sundalo,” she said.
Castro, Ocampo and 16 others have been charged with kidnapping and human trafficking for allegedly holding minors during their solidarity mission.
All of them were released from detention on Saturday night after they each posted P80,000 bail for their charges.
Castro, however, insisted that they did not kidnap or abuse the Lumad children, saying that they were actually rescuing them after the paramilitary group Alamara padlocked their school.
In fact, she said they were supposed to bring the children to the main office of the Salugpongan Tatanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center located in Tagum City.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said the Lumad students and children chose to evacuate from their school after it was padlocked to avoid a repeat of an incident in another Lumad school in Surigao Del Sur in 2015.
“Kaya nila gusto umalis doon after ma-padlock, sabi ng executive director, gusto nila maiwasan yung gulo doon sa ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture Livelihood Development),” he said.
ALCADEV hit national headlines in 2015 after its school director, Emerico Samarte, was found dead on September 1 that year, allegedly executed by a paramilitary group Mahagat-Bagani.
Two other community leaders were also allegedly executed by the group.
Castro, Ocampo and their camp is set to file counter charges against authorities involved in the incident, such as arbitrary detention, illegal arrest, and graft.