by Boy Vicitacion | Daily Corridor, 3 September 2009 |
Traveling uphill on board our vehicle for more than an hour from the national highway of Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur our team finally reached the site of the controversial ALCADEV school perched on the mountain lairs.
It was last Saturday. Our team from the The Daily Corridor and Periodico news (PNN) joined the delagates of the National Solidarity Mission in accompanying backhome to their hinterland villages the more 1700 Lumads form the Manobo and Mandaya tribes who had fled their homes almost two months ago and sought refuge at the floral garden of the Diocesan Pastoral Center in the capital town of Tandag.
The tribesmen finally was home that day. With us in that mission were Provincial Administrator Jhonny Pimentel , Congressman Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis and Congressman Luz Ilagan of Gabriela. Chairperson Leila De Lima of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was with us together with her lawyers staff.
Honestly aside from wanting the happy faces of the home bound evacuees I really wanted to see for myself the ALCADEV school out of curiosity and anticipation to see what a “PMA of the NPA” looks like.
My curiosity about the site had been pricked when Col. Danilo Fabian commander of the army’s 401st Brigade , told De Lima in an investigative inquiry that the school was the PMA of the NPA. The decription of Fabian about the school was however , anchored on the fact that the school, was however, anchored on the fact that the colonel made his “tip” to De Lima based on what he said was an information from a bishop whom he declined to name.
Images played in my mind that the place could have a training camp most-likely the same to that I usually see inside military training camps.
Really the disclosure of Fabian to De Lima fancied my imagination. In the past years as journalist, I had seen training facilities inside some of the NPA camps I went to see as part of my work as journalist. I wanted to see if NPA’s had improved their style of a training camp now compared now compared to what they had before.
But I was disapponted when I reached the ALCADEV school. What I saw, like what the other first-timers saw in the area was more of an agricultural school than of a guerilla training camp. I did not see obstacle structures or a firing range. Instead, there were garden plots with vegetables. I saw makeshifts with old –fashioned tables and chairs which remind me of looks of classrooms during the 80’s. Chalk boards were there.
What I saw was a school that only the forgotten and neglected children in the country would enroll just to have an education. The site inspired us to believe that there are still some few souls in our troubled society who are ready to forget themselves in order to serve the masses. And they are the volunteer teachers of ALCADEV who definitely are not guerilla training officers. Amen.
*PUBLISHED IN EDITORIAL PAGE OF THE DAILY CORRIDOR