MANILA – Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario on Monday said leftist organizations use indigenous people (IPs) “to push their own agenda,” and accused them of maneuvering the truth.
This, after former Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker Satur Ocampo and his companions were charged Friday with kidnapping and human trafficking over the transport of minors in Davao del Norte.
In a statement, del Rosario denied Ocampo’s allegations that a paramilitary group forcibly closed the Salugpongan Ta’TanuIgkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) in Dulyan, Palma Gil village, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
“The so-called ‘right defenders’ exploited the issue to demonize the government and raise funds for their benefit,” he said.
He said it was the local government unit and tribal leaders who pushed for the closure after seeing Salugpongan schools being used as platforms by leftist groups for anti-government propaganda and armed struggle.
“We cannot allow a few cunning individuals to mar our development momentum in the Lumad municipality,” del Rosario said.
Del Rosario called on the leftist groups to stop exploiting the Lumads and start working closely with the government instead.
"The incident revealed how the age-old conflict between the government and those who seek to overthrow it took its toll on our innocent and disadvantaged IP brothers and sisters," he said.
"Time and again, we have proven that genuine pro-poor governance is the key to alleviating the lives of our Indigenous People," he added.
Ocampo and 17 others, tagged as ‘Talaingod 18’, were arrested last Wednesday evening for violating Republic Act No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2012 after allegedly holding 14 minors without parental consent and permit from the LGU.
The leftist group, however, defended this move, saying it is part of a fact-finding mission on the Salugpongan schools’ closure. (PNA)