As partners of Save our Schools (SOS) Network where we organise projects for the benefit of the Lumad students, we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and comrades of Lumad teachers Chad Booc and Jurain Ngujo II, and Lumad community health worker Elegyn Balonga. We also send our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of Robert Aragon and Tirso Añar.
Last Thursday, 24 February 2022, the 10th Infantry Division (ID) and 101st Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) massacred Chad, Jurain, Elegyn and their two drivers — Robert and Tirso in New Bataan, Davao de Oro, Mindanao. According to reports, the group, now collectively known as New Bataan 5, were on their way home from visiting rural villages in southern Mindanao as part of their research work for Save our Schools Network.
Chad and Jurain were both university graduates who chose the road less trodden. After graduating, instead of opting for an illustrious career and a more comfortable life as professionals in their fields, Chad and Jurain volunteered to teach at the Lumad schools in far-flung areas in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Elegyn had been an active volunteer health worker for Lumad peoples and trainor for medical interns going to Lumad communities.
For the past years, Lumad schools and communities have been intensely militarised. Teachers, community leaders and support organisations have been under constant attacks and vilification.
The intense militarisation forced Lumad communities to temporarily seek refuge in Davao, Cebu and Manila cities. Organised by Save our Schools Network, Chad and Jurain were at the heart of the ‘Bakwit’ or ‘evacuated’ schools, ensuring their students’ continuous education. Elegyn, for her part, took to heart taking care everyone’s health and well-being at the ‘Bakwit’ sanctuary in Davao city.
We are inspired by Chad, Jurain and Elegyn’s dedication and commitment to serve the Lumad peoples. We deeply admire their courage and strength.
It is truly an immense loss for their loved ones, for their comrades and the Lumad communities.
We share their intense grief and rage.
We support their call for a thorough and independent investigation, and their call for justice.
Rest in power, Chad, Jurain, Robert, Tirso and Elegyn.
Foundation for Filipino Children
Women for Filipino Women and Children
the Netherlands, 28 February 2022