Marking the Int’l Teacher’s Day- RMP, SOS Network and Salugpongan Lumad Schools appeal to DOJ Secretary for Amelia Pond's immediate release
Manila, Philippines- Marking the October 5 International Teacher’s Day, Catholic church group Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Save Our School (SOS) Network and Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (STTICLCI Lumad school) held a protest in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) office in Manila to press Secretary Atty. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II to review the case of their missionary-teacher Amelia Pond and eventually drop the trumped up charges against her.
Pond, 64 years old, RMP’s Regional Coordinator for Southern Mindanao (SMR) and a teacher of STTICLCI, a Lumad school, was arrested on August 19 after the group’s 28th National Assembly in Cebu City. She was accosted by elements of the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP – CIDG) who used a warrant of arrest named for a different person “Adelfa Toledo” charged with double murder and frustrated murder. She was first held at Camp Sotero Cabahug in the said city and was transferred at the Compostela Valley Provincial Jail, Tagum, City, after more than two weeks.
“We appeal to Secretary Aguirre to immediately review and drop all the trumped up charges filed against her. Pond is our missionary- teacher from Southern Mindanao who supports the Lumad people to build schools. We are saddened that she is still languishing in jail for more than a month now for a crime she did not commit,” stated by Fr. Oliver Castor, Cssr, RMP Spokesperson.
“Amelia Pond is not Adelfa Toledo. Contrary to CIDG’s claim, we assert the legality of Pond’s identity who possesses her passport, senior citizen ID card, ID card from the Salugpongan Lumad schools and RMP,” the church leader said.
Based on the report, a joint affidavit from a certain Alberto Egagamo, Jaymar Gonzaga and Andro Bansag is accusing her of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and was involved in killing a barangay official in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley in year 2000.
“We are alarmed that the arrest of Pond is an addition to the increasing human rights cases of land reform advocates in the country under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan that strongly needs to be addressed. Aside from Pond, two RMP lay workers namely, Dominiciano Muya, an agriculturist of Lumad schools in SMR who is charged with trumped up cases and imprisoned since 2013 and Joel Yagao, a lay worker from RMP Northern Mindanao region who is in jail since 2014,” Fr. Castor said.
“Though faced with the predicament of being object of government repression, we will continue our campaign and advocacy work for the farmers and the Lumad People and will remain vigilant within our ranks as servants of the Rural Poor,” Castor ended. ###
Fr. Oliver Castor, CSSR, RMP Spokesperson, 0929-796-8059
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay. We live and work with the peasants (farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers).