By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Indigenous Taiwanese students who are in the country for a cultural exchange program felt harassed when police officers and soldiers from the 50th IB in Kalinga followed them everywhere they went and kept asking for their profile from August 12 to 15.
Some 13 indigenous Taiwanese students from the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Culture, Communication and Empowerment (IPCCE) of Shih Hsin University in Wenshan district, Taipei, Taiwan went to Kalinga to visit several communities for exposure and cultural exchange as part of their “Lima for You” summer program.
This program is in partnership with the Dap-ayan Ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (Center of Culture in the Cordillera or DKK), Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) and the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Youth Network (AIPYN).
Alma Sinumlag of the DKK said that this is the third batch of indigenous Taiwanese students who came for the cultrual exchange program but this is the firt time that they experienced such harassment. The first two batches came in 2016 and 2017.
Sinumlag said that at around 7:00 PM on August 12 four police personnel, one in uniform and the three others in plain clothes went to the hotel where they stayed in Tabuk City to gather personal data of the Taiwanese and question their purpose of visit. The police told them that it was part of the government’s policy to get the background information of foreigners in the country.
The Taiwanese visitors told them they have to get a lawyer first before answering the queries of the cops.
According to Sinumlag, at around 8:00 PM on the same night, a group of men approached the guard of the hotel and asked where the rooms of the foreigners were located. They attempted to search the rooms but the guard refused so the men left. The guards identified the men to be from the 50th IB.
Again at around 9:00 PM, the police came back with forms and asked the foreigners to sign them. But the Taiwanese said they would only sign it in the presence of their lawyer.
Sinumlag said that on August 13, on their way to Barangay Anunang, Rizal, Kalinga they noticed some motorcycle-riding men tailed them along the way. When their group held a cultural sharing activity in Anunang Elementary School, four cops armed with cameras began taking pictures of the foreigners and their companions without asking their permission.
On August 15 in Barangay Tomiangan, four policemen approached the Taiwanese and asked to talk with their team leader. The police told Sinumlag that they have to interview the Taiwanese before some of them will go missing.
The Taiwanese team leaders, Awi Pawan and Tuhi Martukaw told the police that they have to coordinate with the Taiwanese embassy here in the Philippines before talking to them.
Sinumlag said that most of their Taiwanese visitors were shaken by this experience as some of them were here for the first time. Sinumlag also said a stress debriefing session had to be conducted with their visitors.
The group left Kalinga on August 17. # nordis.net