Salugpongan Teacher Amelia Pond released after 15-month detention

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Salugpongan teacher Amelia Pond at her release. Photograph from Save Our Schools Network-SMR.

Activists, amid the brewing furor over the state of repression marking International Human Rights Day, noted with a celebratory air the dismissal of what they described as trumped up charges against Lumad school teacher Amelia B. Pond.

Pond, 65 years old and curriculum researcher for the Salugpongan Community Learning Center serving Talaingod and other rural-lumad communities in Mindanao, was detained for 15 months on trumped up charges of murder before her eventual release last December 7, 2017.

The court’s dismissal of the case came about as prosecution witnesses recanted their allegations against her, thus bolstering “the falsity of charges filed against Pond,” said the organization Save Our Schools Network-SMR.

“Although we celebrate the dismissal of the trumped up case, this vindication does not diminish the anguish Pond went through for 15 months.”

In August 2016, the CIDG arrested Pond when she attended an assembly of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in Cebu.

“CIDG operatives presented falsified IDs and used an alias warrant under the name of Adelfa Toledo, an alleged NPA leader wanted for murder, to justify Pond’s arrest,” Save Our Schools Network recounted.

“While in detention, Pond had to be placed in hospital arrest when she underwent surgery on her spine. Against doctor’s orders, she was forcibly transferred back to Tagum jail without humanitarian consideration for her delicate state of recuperation.”

SOS Network observed that the military establishment’s attacks on lumad schools and teachers have continued and escalated: “Lumad schools are vilified through red baiting, while teachers and students are harassed and attacked. Lumad communities are also either made to starve after food blockades imposed by the military, or are outright destroyed by aerial bombardments.”

On top of these, SOS Network added: “The military’s scheme to extend Martial Law in Mindanao, compounded by Pres. Duterte’s threats against Lumad schools and accusations that certain organizations are serving as legal fronts of the revolutionary movement suggests that state terrorism will continue to attack and endanger Lumad schools and their advocates.”