Teachers in Davao Norte get threat of ‘tribal war’

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DAVAO CITY–The mayor in the Davao del Norte town of Talaingod said he requested the Department of Education (DepEd) to temporarily halt the deployment of teachers in the town after receiving a “pangayaw” or tribal war threat.

Mayor Jonnie Libayao said Monday he received the threat through a text message on Saturday, the same day the local government declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) “persona non-grata” in the municipality.

Libayao said he immediately called a meeting on Sunday with the local police and the military stationed in the town, adding he was worried over the safety of the teachers–especially those assigned in the town’s far-flung areas.

Talaingod, a second-class municipality, is mostly mountainous and has been a flashpoint for communist rebel activities. The town is home to Ata-Manobo tribal communities.

“As the mayor, I want to make sure that our teachers are safe. This is why I sought the temporary halt on their deployment to their assigned schools,” Libayao said.

In particular, Libayao said he requested that DepEd teachers temporarily cease classes in four areas covering three barangays because of their isolated locations.

To further ensure the teacher’s safety, Libayao said he asked tribal leaders in the three communities to verify the threat and obtain assurance for the teachers’ safety.

He said the threat could possibly come from other Ata Manobo NPA leaders who are sympathetic to the Salugpongan schools, whose permit to operate was suspended by DepEd last week for alleged links with the communist rebel movement.

Meanwhile, DepEd-Region 11 spokesperson Jenelieto Atillo has called on government security forces to consider the threat seriously, saying the learners of the affected schools will be adversely impacted if classes remain suspended for many days.

“It is not good that something of this sort has transpired. Whether the issue on “pangayaw” is true or not, this matter must be given utmost and serious attention considering there is an element of threat against the lives of our teachers,” Atillo said. (PNA)

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