The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) today stood by the actions of Undersecretary for Institutional Development Group (IDG) Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa to assist human rights organizations as they faced threats from Alamara, a local vigilante and paramilitary group as they sought to hold a medical mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte last February 13, 2017.

Usec. Ancheta-Templa joined the medical mission from January 9 to 11, and facilitated the release of a total of 2,000 relief packs to families coming from 40 communities in barangays Palma Gil and Dagohoy. Each relief pack contained six kilos of rice, four cans of corned beef, four cans of sardines, and six packets of instant coffee mix.  Packets of instant cereal meal for children were also distributed to each community for future use.

Usec. Ancheta-Templa also led the implementation of a feeding program of rice and vegetable stew which benefited 1,000 school-aged children.

She has since sought to issue clarifications regarding the DSWD’s involvement in the medical mission.

“We fully supported and participated in the medical assistance for the Lumad communities in Talaingod because it was a very worthy activity. It is the mandate of the DSWD to give assistance when it is sought from us, and when it is within our immediate means to provide assistance,” she said.

She said that the DSWD joined the mission “to ensure the delivery of food packs for impoverished community residents and nutrition sachets for infants and under one-year olds, and social preparation for the conduct of climate change and adaptation and mitigation-related.”

“There is nothing irregular about our involvement in the recently conducted medical mission, and we are glad we were able to help in the provision of food for our Lumad communities,” she said.

The following report is based on an excerpt from the Talaingod Municipal Police Station’s blotter written by SPO1 Roldan S. Bejarin.

A group of the University of the Philippines (UP) and Save Our School Network led by Ruis Avellanosa, Prof. Kim Gargar, Dr. Lyre Murao, Dr. Aleyla de Cadiz, and Dr. Louella Siarot appeared at the station and requested to have it put on record that around 12:04 pm on February 10, the community in Sitio Sambulongan, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod that a group of Alamara was heading towards their direction so they left in  rush. They saw that members of the Alamara group were following them. They also said that on February 12, around 12pm as they prepared to depart from the community where they had just concluded a medical mission, they received a text message from one of the drivers of the mission who was set to fetch the members  that another group of the Alamara had set up a road block in Sitio Camaca, Brgy. Palma Gil. This prevented them from proceeding to their next destination which was Sitio Nasilaban in the same barangay.

The driver also sent  a text that contained the threat from the Alamara from which went “Kung isakay ninyo ka mg Lumad ok ra, pero kung ang bisita sa Nasilaban ang inyong isakay madamay mo. This, the driver said, was from a member of the Alamara Jovin Salangani who was in the area. The driver also said that there was word going around in the community that they – the Alamara – would be glad if they succeeded in killing even just one member of the mission.

Salangani, as stated in the police blotter, “is also known as the perpetrator in the murder of Alibando Tingkas, a Lumad student, on January 19, 2016.”

Because of these, the university professors immediately contacted Usec. Ancheta-Templa and Talaingod Mayor Basilio Libayao to ask for help. Both officials took action to help the mission members and everyone was able to return to Davao safely.

“As an official of the DSWD and as a human being, it was important to me to ensure that the medical mission members were all safe from the Alamara which is a known vigilante group that terrorizes civilian communities in Talaingod and other parts of Davao. We care about civilian lives and seek to protect them from all costs from harm. Our intervention and move to speak to Mayor Libayao to help the mission members was in furtherance of that mandate to protect civilian lives,” she added.

Medical findings of the med mission

A total of 362 patients from twelve communities were assisted by the medical team.  The dental team was able to help 26 patients.  Their age ranges are as follows:

Age range           No. of patients

0-2 years old         51

3-12 years old       64

13-17 years old     24

18 y.o. above        167

60 y.o. above        56

A total of 51 illnesses and diseases were identified, with the following as the most reported:

Main diseases diagnosed among members of the communities: myalgia; upper respiratory tract infection; simple cough and colds;  gastritis; acute gastroenteritis; urinary tract infection; acid peptic disease; simple headache;    gastroesophageal reflux disease; and community acquired pneumonia.

List of communities that received DSWD relief packs: Dalingding, Tamboco, Nasilaban, Tibucag, KM 39, Kamamuonan, Laboo, Sasu, Kamak, Purok Mangga, Lumabag, Barobo, KM 30, Igang, Kaylawan, Lawaan, KM 18, Banwaloy, Indangan, Nalubas, Sambolongan, Bayabas, Bugni, Pongpong, Inaloy, Mirato, KM 17, Butay, Kamingawan, Matibagao, Peroy,  Bagang Laslasakan, KM 31, Lumbayan, Eliyan, Kalibangal, Balite, Bukidnon, and Dulyan.#