COMPOSTELA, Davao de Oro – Members of indigenous peoples (IP) community led the demolition of the Salugpongan Ta' Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) in Purok 6, Sitio Cambudlot, Barangay San Miguel here Friday.
The demolition came after the IP community in April last year filed a resolution requesting a school run by the Department of Education (DepEd) in their area, expressing concern that the Salugpongan might be teaching its students to revolt against the government.
The resolution said Barangay San Miguel’s local government unit approved the request for the security, welfare, and common good of its constituents, and the benefit of their people.
San Miguel village chairperson Joel Balili said in an interview that the Salugpongan was built in 2011 and stopped operations in 2017.
He said he was happy with the recent development as he described the place as being indoctrinated by the communist New People’s Army (NPA), considering that it is the farthest sitio in the barangay.
“The government services were brought here, like road access, electrification, and now the soon-to-be-established DepEd school,” Balili added.
He also thanked the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for the security they have provided in the area.
“The lay-outing of the school building by the provincial engineering office will commence as soon as this area will be free. I do not have the idea of the budget but it will be built through bayanihan,” Balili added.
San Miguel resident, Rodolfo Eceja, thanked the government for doing the "right thing" about the STTICLCI.
“We all know that it was run by the NPA but they used the non-governmental organizations to establish this school,” he said in the vernacular.
Eceja recounted that he was forced to enroll his children in the school because, at the time, they never felt the services of the government in their community.
“During that time, they (NPA) told us that the government does not care for us. We somehow believe(d) it because that is what we saw. We never experienced the services of the government here, unlike now,” he added.
Roselyn Anfone, whose children were former students of the STTICLCI, said the demolition does not affect them at all since they knew that the government is on their side and a new school would rise in the area.
“We do not regret losing it because we receive various interventions from the government now, like school supplies for our students,” she added.
Anfone looks forward to the speedy establishment of the new school for her to enroll her children, which she said is closer to their residence.
Lt. Col. Julius Munar, commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion, said the demolition was a symbol of good governance.
“From the previous years, the presence of the communist NPA is visible. But this time, we already have a peaceful community here,” he said.
Munar added that the establishment of the DepEd-run school would provide a better future for the children.
“Rest assured that we will always support you, along with other government agencies, we will continue to provide services here to help you improve your lives,” he added
Meanwhile, Maj. Jason Baria, Compostela town police chief, said the demolition proved that the community does not want the presence of the NPA in the area.
“It only shows that they do not want them. This will be a mark that we will show to them (NPA) that the government is sincere in their programs,” he added.
The Communist Party of the Philippines - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)