BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 23) – The principal of an elementary school of Mountain Province denied a media report that the revolutionary Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) leader demanded P300,000 from their school as donation to the communists movement and that at the moment, they do not blame anybody or any group yet on the burning of their school buildings as police investigation is on-going.
Mrs. Belena M. Gamonac, a principal of the Tonglayan Elementary School (TES) of Natonin, Mountain Province, claims that CPDF leader Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan never approached her to demand payment of P 300,000 or any amount for that matter.
Natonin municipality is a six-hour ride from the capital town of Bontoc. Located in the eastern part of the province, it is inhabited by the indigenous Balangao tribe.
In the press release of the 11th Civil Relations Unit of the Civil Relations Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP) which was published in a February 11 issue of of a local million (not Nordis) here, it stated that Naogsan demanded the amount in November 2006 from Gamonac. In the same story, it stated that perpetrators on the burning of the three TES buildings were members of the CPDF/NPA headed by Ka Filiw. The burning of the school buildings occurred allegedly on January 14.
“We do not pin the blame (on the burning) on anybody or any group yet while I condemn in the strongest terms the burning of our school because it deprived our students of decent place to study and deprived our teachers of teaching materials,” explained Gamonac in her signed statement which was faxed to Nordis today. The school is host to 300 elementary students.
Presently, the students are conducting their classes at an old high school building in the same area, according to Nordis sources in Bontoc and Natonin. The issue has been brought to government agencies and the provincial officials to help fast track the rebuilding of the school building and to provide teaching materials, added the sources.
The burning of the school building is being investigated by Natonin and provincial police authorities, the sources added. They added that the fire that gutted the three buildings started in a building which has no electricity. Residents slammed the media story and urged reporters to wait the result of the police investigation.
Teaching of communism
Gamonac pointed out that in the media story, Naogsan allegedly warned her and her teachers not to teach communism in school and she again allegedly said communism is incorporated in Hekasi” (Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika).
“This (teaching of communism) is again totally false because there was never any time that Naogsan came to us and warned us not to teach communism,” claims Gamonac adding; “We must state however that we will teach according to the DepEd curriculum and guidelines.”
The CRU (Civil Relation Unit of the CRSAFP) released last week the story to Baguio-based national correspondents and local reporters. Gamonac wonders how the reporters came up with the stories as she cited that all the facts she said were contained in their statements to police investigators.
“While we understand that there are agencies out to promote their interests, they should not do so at the expense of truth or of innocent persons,” she adds.
Nordis tried to reach 2nd Lt. Jose Ilarde, the acting commander of the 11th Civil Relations of the CRSAFP-CAR but claimed in a text message that he was in a conference. # Arthur L. Allad-iw with reports from NORDIS Mountain Province