Small and Vulnerable-A A +A
Bahin sang Bubay
Sunday, October 20, 2013
IT’S a pity that the anti-bullying law only apply to pupils and students involved in incidents within the school premises, and I still cannot grasp the logic of it. If one is to consider things, the children bullies only learned behavioural impertinence from their adult predecessors. It could be from their own parents, from their immediate first degree in consanguinity, or perhaps from their neighbours and other people in the community.
It's even contained in one commercial making a comment on everyday violations committed among the adults that says "Ang ginagawa ng matatanda, kahit mali ay nagiging tama sa mata ng bata." (The wrongdoings of adults become right in the eyes of children.)
This reality should have been considered by lawmakers who crafted the anti-bullying law or Republic Act 10627 or the "Anti-Bullying Act of 2013" which was signed into law last Sept. 6 by President Aquino. As situations in far-flung areas in Compostela Valley and Agusan show where soldiers openly violate the law that prohibits them to go into schools without permission, it is clear that bullying is happening, albeit to a larger scale.
A year ago, about 60 members of the 84th IB under the Charlie Company of the Armed Forces of the Philippines went inside the school premises of the Lumad School in Toruyan, Marilog district, and made their intention clear that they were going to stay for the night, ignoring the teachers' advise against it.
Bro. Barinque, an aspirant from a religious organization who was at the IP school to have an exposure/immersion with the school community recounted that the soldiers have wanted to stay inside the teachers? cottage for the night, but the teachers firmly refused, explaining to them the reasons and telling them that it is a gross violation of a law prohibiting armed personnel of the Armed Forces to stay inside civilian facility.
In his narrative, Mr. Barinque said "They (the soldiers) immediately set their things around the school perimeter, particularly at the stage and around the teachers cottage. They asked to stay inside the classrooms, but we refused." He said when the teachers told them that they should not be within 500 meters away from the school premises, the soldiers just laughed and said, the prohibition is only 50 meters.
Moreover, the soldiers instead called on all the residents in the community to gather and started to tell them that they are conducting a "census". Thus, from 10-years old up, all their names were listed including their age and questions about the occupants of their homes and so on, and so forth were asked. After each questioning, the soldiers took their pictures, adding to the fear being felt by the individuals.
Sensing the unease that the women in the communities were feeling, teacher Mary Jane Detua then decided to go down from the teacher's cottage and be with the people for fear of what might happen.
Ms. Detua said some of the soldiers went to the houses of Lumads where they slept for the night. And those who were staying just outside the teacher's cottage went on to use the comfort room and the faucet for the teachers even without permission. The following day, the soldiers left the school around 8 a.m.
Meanwhile, Ms. Ed Kristine Clordearta, the 22-year-old classroom facilitator who was new to the school at that time recounted that upon seeing several soldiers coming into the school premises, she was gripped with trepidation as it was the first time she saw so many of them. After talking to some of them, she realized that it seemed like the soldiers have no idea at all about the law that prohibits them from getting near the school premises 500 meters away.
She added that they were all so disturbed that they had a bad sleep all throughout the night, fearing what might happen at night while the soldiers were there, thinking that if an attack happened that night, the soldiers will be unable to protect them at all.
After that event, the teachers have wished to let authorities know how fearful they all felt, thus they would like their recommendations to be heard. These were some of the teachers? recommendations:
1. They wanted the soldiers or any armed group for that matter to stay away from the community as the law provides;
2. The teachers wanted the national government to address the ignorance of soldiers regarding the law that prohibits uniformed armed men to be within or less than 500 meters perimeter from school and community premises.
The Matigsalug community who also experienced harassment when most of the soldiers slept into their houses were fearful as well, for their safety during and after the soldiers? presence. They too would have wanted the soldiers to keep out of their community.
With these incidents, does it not warrant for the soldiers' superior to make their subordinates for these human rights' violations? Is it not a clear case of bullying as clearly they are intimidating the small school community in these areas?
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 21, 2013.