6 makeshift schools built for IPs in Kitaotao, San Fernando
SAN FERNANDO (12 August 2020) – The 89th Infantry Battalion and 1003rd Infantry Brigade of the army’s 10th Division turned over six completed makeshift schools for indigenous communities in Kitaotao and San Fernando, Aug. 4.
The handover ceremony was held at Sitio Laburon in Brgy. Matupe, San Fernando town.
Seven schools were built in areas under Capt. Melvert Bonzato, commander of 89IB’s Alpha Company. The seventh, which is still incomplete, is in Sitio Binasalan, Brgy. Cabuling.
Bonzato said each school has two classrooms that can hold 80 to 90 pupils and that all seven schools can accommodate up to 460 pupils.
“These areas are identified to have IP schools run and managed by the alleged left-leaning groups such as MISFI and RMP,” Bonzato said. “But we were able to stop them last year. We were also able convince around 1,200 Militia ng Bayan (MB) and mass organization supporters to surrender.”
The schools built by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) were allegedly used as recruitment avenues of the New Peoples’ Army for their combatants.
Datu Lito Gambay, tribal chieftain of Matupe and head of Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao ug San Fernando (NAMAKITSA), said that for several years MISFI and RMP gave education to their children but the government did not accredit it.
Brig. Gen. Nolasco Mempin, commander of the 1003rd Brigade, said they will help provide livelihood assistance to the IP communities so they will no longer be persuaded to support the communist movement.
Lt. Col Silas Transmontero, 89IB commander, added that the new schools will spare the students of their two to three kilometer-walk every day.
Bonzato acknowledged the Bayanihan efforts of the army, parents, the IP communities, the local government units of Kitaotao and San Fernando including the business sector who gave donations for the materials.
Two schools are located in Sitio Salumayag and Kalinawan in Brgy. Digongon, Kitaotao. The other four are located in four sitios of San Fernando town. These are in Sitios Balao, Lugawon, and Malungon in Brgy. Kalagangan, and Sitio Laburon in Brgy. Matupe where the handover program is conducted.
Dr. Randolph B. Tortola, DepEd-Bukidnon schools division superintendent, promised to give regular teachers this year’s school opening. He said they initially distributed pencils to students in Sitio Laburon while notebook donations will follow.
San Fernando Mayor Levi Edma also offered to provide Job-Order teachers if needed.
The community also received vegetable seeds from the Department of Agriculture while the the Department of Health in the Region has turned over some medicines to the community. (Mel B. Madera)