15-year-old Lumad student Jerome Pangadas was shot dead on March 15 2019 in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
Jerome was a Grade 6 student at the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center. Reports state that at around 6pm on March 15, Pangadas was in the house of another resident, watching TV, when a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) opened fire at several houses. The 15-year-old was killed instantly. The perpetrator was identified as Eroy Balentin.
In a statement, Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary-General of the human rights group Karapatan noted that “students of community schools have been increasingly at risk, particularly after the Duterte government and its band of military fascists have zeroed in on the schools as their targets.” He added, “It must be emphasized that these killings are not isolated, but a systematic attack against indigenous and peasant communities who continue to raise legitimate demands for education, self-determination and genuine land reform. Students, their communities, and the schools which they have founded and built are being attacked. Farmers and their organizations, as well as their supporters are being attacked. Human rights defenders and activists are being targeted. The Filipino people who remain firm in the defence of their rights are in extreme danger under this brutal and murderous regime.”
The Save Our Schools (SOS) Network condemned the government’s anti-insurgency programme Oplan Kapayapaan, which is being implemented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). SOS Network spokesperson Rius Valle stated that the programme targets Lumad residents to join the paramilitary group, which is being supported by the military. Valle added that Lumad residents who are already members of the paramilitary are tasked to recruit more Lumad to the group. The continued imposition of martial law in Mindanao has also intensified military operations in rural areas and targets children, especially those who are studying in Lumad schools. Valle also criticized the AFP and President Duterte for attacks and red-tagging of Lumad schools in Mindanao. He added that last year, members of the military-backed paramilitary group Alamara forcibly closed 14 Salugpongan schools affecting 533 students in Talaingod town.