The Save Our Schools Network launches a "Bakwit School" at UP Diliman to facilitate the continuity of learning of affected students from the indigenous group on Sept. 2, 2019. This was after the Department of Education issued an order suspending 54 Lumad schools in Davao.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Lumad groups slam Sara Duterte’s order to shut down school
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - October 2, 2019 - 7:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Lumad networks spoke out on Wednesday against Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s order to close down tribal schools administered by the Salugpongan Ta' Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc.

“Tinanggal ang aming karapatan na makapag-paaral sa aming mga bata, pati na rin ang pagtanggi sa pagkain, damit at iba pang mga gamit sa paaralan,” Datu Ginom Andil said in a translated statement compiled by Save Our Schools Network.

Andil is the Chairperson of Salugpungan Ta 'Tanu Igkanogon People's Organization or the Salugpongan Council of Elders.

READ: For Lumad schools, even holding class is a struggle

“Ang eskwelahang Lumad ang nagturo sa amin ng tunay na kaalaman na magamit namin sa kasalukuyan... ang tumutulong sa pagpatuloy sa pag depensa sa aming kabuhayan, pagpatuloy sa mabuting asal galing sa aming matatanda at pagunlad sa aming kaisipan,” Andil said.

Duterte, in a statement released on Monday, cited a City Peace and Order resolution that sought the Department of Education's authority to cancel STTICLCI's permit to operate.

The resolution said that among the local government's findings was the issue of STTICLCI students lacking academic records and learning reference numbers.

Debunking claims

However, STTICLCI Executive Director Meggie Nolasco contested the presidential daughter’s points which served as the basis for the closure of the STTICLCI schools.

She said that contrary to the mayor's claims, STTICLCI students have LRNs and there are only two Salugpongan Learning Center schools operating in Davao City, not 11.

“Where did she get the nine other Salugpongan schools? Did she or the CPOC [take] due diligence to check these facts?” she said.

Nolasco also said that Salugpongan administrators and teachers were not even notified or summoned to address the allegations against their school.

“These lies are recycled, reused, and re-weaponized by the mayor who believes she has the truth, who believes she has the privilege as the presidential daughter to pick up fights instead of inclusive dialogue,” she said.

READ: CHR: Education of Lumad students shouldn’t be compromised despite gov’t allegations

The Salugpongan director said the influence of the military on Duterte’s order is undeniable, and that the mayor missed the point of why they were staying in the city instead of their communities.

"She has not seen the fact that it was her father President Duterte who made the threat to bomb Lumad schools in 2017 and such statement became military's blank check to threaten and attack IP communities in various forms,” Nolasco said.

The ‘real’ threat

Andil said the presence of military and paramilitary groups like Alamara and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit threatened Lumad communities, citing experiences of forced surrender, harassment and even killings.

In 2017, 19-year-old Salugpongan student Obillo Bay-ao was reportedly shot to death by CAFGU agents in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.

Andil also rebutted Duterte’s accusation that STTICLCI and other Lumad schools were merely rebel recruiting grounds and venues to propagate anti-government ideology.

“Ang mga paaralang lumad ay isang anyo ng aming pagdepensa sa aming lupang ninuo at pagpataguyod sa aming kultura, ekonomiya, at pulitika na nagserbisyo sa komunidad at sa sariling pagpasiya,” he said.

READ: Palace: 'Hamleting' of Lumads will be for their own good

The 1987 Constitution recognizes and promotes alternative learning systems in the country.

It states in Article XIV, Section 2 that the state shall "[e]stablish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society" and "[e]ncourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent, and out-of-school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs."

SOS Network spokesperson Rius Valle said the mayor’s idea of injustice is misdirected, citing other issues which he said deserve more immediate government attention like the plunder of natural resources and military threats on Lumads and farmers.

“Injustice is when the military and intelligence budget is spent to fund military and paramilitary operations that harassed and attacked Lumad school teachers, students, and parents, resulting in the closure of 135 Lumad schools and displacement of 3,500 students,” Valle said.

He also defended the Lumad’s right to establish their own system of education.

“We believe that power resides not in the pockets of the elite, but in the people who assert their self-determination and rights. And we find that in the Lumad who want to continue their education so that the next generation of the Lumad in Mindanao will be more prepared to articulate and defend and develop their communities.”

DAVAO CITY MAYOR INDAY SARA DUTERTE LUMAD EVACUEES LUMAD SCHOOL LUMAD STUDENTS SARA DUTERTE - CARPIO
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