NABUNTURAN, Compostela Valley (PIA) -- "Wala nay temporary close, e-abolish na jud."
A former student and teacher of Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanogon calls for the total abolition of his former school, saying that the learning center used the children to push the agenda of the communist New People's Army, including the armed struggle.
"Sa akong kaugalingon, napamatudan jud nako, nga ang mga estudyante dinha, walay lain kapadulngan. Duha ray kapadulngan, kung dili mahimong NPA, mahimong aktibista." (I can truly attest that the students there will have no other way to go except for these two: If they do not join the NPA (New People's Army), they end up being activists).
Datu Awing Apuga of Ata Manabo in Talaingod, Davao del Norte spent almost his childhood in the communist movement. He enrolled in a Salugpungan at Sitio Saso when he was still five years old. He said that they were taught to read and write. However ,at that young age, they were also trained on military tactical activities during recess and lunch breaks, like crawling and target shooting.
"Nag edad ko ug nuybe anyos, M16 na pero kato na time, nagtago-tago mi didto sa lasang," Datu Awing said. (When I reach the age of 9 years old, (we were allowed to carry) M16 guns, but at that time, we hid at the forest.)
After 10 years of schooling and even without a college degree, Datu Awing was delegated to be a teacher of a Salugpungan school at Sitio Basakan in Talaingod.
"Kung unsa lang pud ang gitudlo sa amoa didto, mao lang pud ang among gitudlo sa mga bata," he said. (We only teach them the same things that were taught to us in that school.)
Datu Awing was one of the ambassadors for truth, who toured recently the United State of America, Canada and Europe to spread the real situation in their villages on how the NPA gradually destroyed their community.
In one of the states visited by the group, they were alarmed by the existence of Salugpungan International, which they say are collecting funds for the schools.
"Mao nang gi-istoryahan namo sila na undangon na ang pagsupurta anang Salugpungan," Datu Awing said. (That's why we told them to stop supporting the Salugpungan.)
Datu Awing also stressed that the center of the recruitment activity nowadays is the youth.
"Ang kabataan ang pinakasetro sa ilahang pag-recruit tungod ingon pa sila gahi pa ang kalawasan ug taas pa ang panahon na makig giyera."
Datu Awing urged the young people, especially those who are slowly being recruited in the communist movement, to stop accepting the lies and instead, work with the government.
"Sa 20 ka tuig nako dinha, wala jud koy naabot; wala jud tay makuha dinha. Mapadulong lang jud ka didto sa bulok na distema. Mapadulong ka sa mawala ka aning kalibutan nga wala kay bili." (In my 20 years in the movement, I achieved nothing; we will not gain anything from it. You are just moving towards a rotten system. You are just headed to a death without a purpose.)
The ambassadors for truth are now visiting provinces and offices in the region to share their stories of their journey to the different countries.
The first provincial government to welcome them was Compostela Valley province, as they were presented during the first organizational meeting of the Task Force Oplan Pagbabago to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF Oplan Pagbabago ELCAC). (PIA-11