THIS HINTERLAND town is home to gentle and peaceful indigenous tribe – Talaingod. The local and the provincial government have seen to it that their culture and traditions are preserved. Even the curriculum of their education dovetails with these as observed in the Davao del Norte State College- Datu Jose Libayao extension school. The Salugpongan community school supported by the leftist organizations does something else. Something extremely radical is happening in the school reviving that adventurism in the 1960s when cell meetings and teach-ins are covertly conducted with the Red Book as the bible alongside the lessons of dialectic materialism.
We were told by Gov. Anthony del Rosario that Salugpongan had been taken over by leftist elements and took advantage of the frailties of the innocence of the children of the indigenous peoples. The tribal council had since then demanded for the closure of the school as this has become a veritable ground to pursue the communist ideology and training ground for child-armed revolutionaries.
A number of armed encounters were reported in what was once a peaceful mountain town. Some of the tribal leaders were victims of atrocities. We always get conflicting reports. Communist partylists always beats military in propaganda and would blame the Armed Forces and their para-military units for the deaths of the lumads. Not because they have anything to do with the murder of tribal leaders but they would go through the process of investigation before coming out with their version of incidents. The military and police always are losers in propaganda warfare.
Take the case of the recent incident in Talaingod that hugged the front pages of newspapers and lead story in broadcast networks. There is an apparent attempt at discrediting the AFP even as Ka Satur Ocampo, President of Bayan Muna, and ACT Teacher Rep. France Castro were caught herding school children towards Salugpongan in an unholy hour. Teach-ins, we used to call this before …or during Ka Satur’s time. This time however, the Red Book of Chairman Mao had become irrelevant considering how modern China has become the 2nd most advanced economy in the world, thus the ideologues of today would rather use video presentation and perverted versions of the national anthem to hypnotize the kids in their leftist adventurism.
Foreign Affairs Sec. Teddy Locsin must have thought that the time lapse when he and Ka Satur were in Congress together had withered his former colleague especially when he had gone through the torturous martial regime and, as the Secretary puts it, “we protected him against warrants of arrests”. Fine. But Locsin should realize that Satur is no longer in the halls of Congress or the streets in Manila where he can shout his slogans and incendiary speeches. This time, his friend Satur, refuses to believe that the China of his time is just a chapter in history and there is no time machine invented to bring them both together at least during their halcyon days in Congress. Satur got stuck in his utopia and he wants to resuscitate this moribund plot by inveigling the innocent tribesmen of Talaingod to embrace his cause.
The military this time caught Satur and his colleagues Red handed. The Lumads, worried about their missing children, denounced the leftist leaders that include a number of protestant pastors (?) for kidnapping their kids. Neither Governor del Rosario nor Mayor Libayao and the tribal chieftain were informed of the activity which the suspects intended to do in that unholy hour of the night when the children ought to be asleep amidst the soporific monotony of crickets chirps.
That they were there to rescue the children from military atrocity does not stand to reason. That to me, to borrow the word of Locsin, is bullshit. It is no secret however, that children and adults of the various indigenous tribes from Talaingod, in Davao del Norte, Agusan provinces and North Cotabato are pitiable spectacles whenever rallies are staged in Davao City. They bear placards that denounce government, dictatorship of whoever sits in Malacanang and the usual ‘imperyalistang Americano’. Young and innocent children, some barely in their teens bellows the banal slogans so worn out as their slippers, with eyes wide open as they stare at concrete edifices much taller than lawaan trees in their backyards.
But why do they hold rallies in Davao City. For one, in Duterte city they do not need permits to staged rallies. Moreover, they organizers love it here because Davao is not only the center of commerce and trade of the south, it is also the communication center. The demonstrators are covered live nationwide by TV and radio stations and their stories are carried by print media. Perfect outputs for pan-handling NGOs in their solicitation of funds from generous but ignorantly naive donor foundations in Europe, Canada and America.
Satur Ocampo and his comrades are surprisingly out on bail given the existence of martial law in Mindanao but they should absorb lessons from this experience in that commercialism and ideological adventurism don’t mix. (Jun Ledesma)
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