Activists suspect surreptitious state agents scouting lumad student camp outside DepEd

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Suspicious-looking motorcycle-riding man observed to be casing out lumad student encampment outside Department of Education compound. Photograph from Save Our Schools

Outside the Department of Education (DepEd) Main Office in Pasig City, representatives of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network and Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s concerns expressed alarm over what they perceived as intensified acts of harassment, surveillance and intimidation against Lumad children, teachers, and administrators camping out in front of the DepEd compound especially after President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent threat to crack down on communist sympathizers.

“If they just want to know what the Lumad students and teachers are fighting for, they only need to talk with us, but what’s alarming is they take pictures without our permission while riding in motorcycles without license plate and usually hiding behind face masks, they wouldn’t do that if they don’t have malicious intentions” said Rius Valle, SOS Mindanao Spokesperson.

Valle also disclosed that suspected state agents started to harass Lumad students after Duterte’s crackdown declaration against suspected CPP sympathizers: “Before, only DepEd security personnel were taking pictures without our permission. Shortly after Duterte’s crackdown against suspected CPP allies, men on motorcycles were seen more often, making us feel that a witch hunt is on against those who are just expressing legitimate concerns.”