By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani T. Zarate has denied claims by a military official that members of the left-leaning Makabayan Bloc did not show up when they were invited to a validation trip to a school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Wednesday.

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Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Zarate accused Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for Civic Military Operations Major General Antonio Parlade Jr. of lying and said that none of them received an invitation to join the supposed validation trip to know if the red-tagging accusations against a Salugpongan School in Talaingod, Davao del Norte were true.

Parlade also accused the Makabayan bloc of delaying the inquiry but said they had to push through with it because it had been postponed twice.

“Hindi nagpakita ang Makabayan Bloc (The Makabayan Bloc did not show up). We want to engage them inthis inquiry para sabihin natin ang totoo (so we can tell the truth),” he said, adding that the inquiry could have answered questions on alleged human rights abuses and militarization in the region.

Zarate countered: “Ginapagawas karon na gipugnagan namo. Na-bilib ko sa bakakon ni Parlade bisan sa Semana Santa (They want to make it appear as if we are holding them back. I am impressed with the dishonesty of Parlade even if it’s Holy Week).

Parlade said the “congressional inquiry,” obviously referring to the validation trip, was conducted to know the truth behind the Salugpongan schools amid the accusations that communist rebels used them to radicalize and indoctrinate young Lumads with the communist movement.

Among the agencies that joined in the activity were the Department of Education, National Commission on Indigenous People, Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, police, military, and Office of the Presidential Adviser for Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns, according to Parlade.

Parlade said the government wants all schools linked to the communists closed but promised to bring basic services closer to lumad communities.

Aside from Salugpongan, Parlade also linked Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and livelihood Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) to the communist movement.

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