Lumads, Makabayan bloc urge House probe into schools closure
A group of Lumads, including students from Salugpongan, on Nov. 4, 2019 visited the House of Representatives to support the resolution filed the same day by party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna) calling for an investigation on the closure of Lumad schools.
Salugpongan, Release
Lumads, Makabayan bloc urge House probe into schools closure
Ratziel San Juan ( - November 5, 2019 - 2:36pm

MANILA, Philippines — A group of Lumads, including students from Salugpongan, on Monday visited the House of Representatives to support a resolution filed by Rep. Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna party-list) calling for an investigation into the Department of Education'sclosure of Lumad schools.

Salugpongan teacher Jeany Rose on Tuesday told that despite the group only being able to meet with the Makabayan bloc during their visit, efforts are being made to connect with other solons.

House Resolution 476, authored by Cullamat and other Makabayan lawmakers, calls on the House committees on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples and Basic Education and Culture to look into the closure order against 55 Lumad schools of Salugpongan Ta'tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (Salugpongan) issued by the Department Of Education (DepEd) Region XI.

The Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples is chaired by Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang (Kalinga), while the Committee on Basic Education and Culture is chaired by Rep. Roman Romulo (Pasig City).

"Closing Lumad schools is an attempt of the government, in cahoots with mining companies, to curtail our effort to raise our level of consciousness regarding our rights as indigenous communities to our ancestral domains and our capability to determine our future," Hayahay said.

Hayahay said that over 150 Lumad schools have been closed down in Mindanao, displacing at least 4,000 Lumad and Moro students.

Status of Lumad schools

Save Our Schools Network spokesperson Rius Valle told that aside from the continued disruption of Lumad education, farming has also been limited due to ongoing military presence in communities.

“Talagang ang militar ang nag e-enforce ng closure through threat and harassment,” Valle said.

(It’s none other than the military that enforces the closure through threat and harassment.)

He also said that SOS Network received reports of "forced recruitment" of community members and students into the military auxiliary Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit and other paramilitary groups, especially in North Cotabato.

CAFGU and paramilitary groups like Alamara are often implicated in cases of human rights violations against indigenous peoples.

In September 2017, Salugpongan student Obillo Bay-Ao was shot to death by CAFGU member Ben Salangani in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. His death is the 47th documented political killing in Region XI, according to SOS Network.

Human rights monitor Karapatan recorded 54 extrajudicial killings and four enforced disappearances of indigenous peoples between July 2016 and June 2019. The group also tallied 52 extrajudicial killings and one enforced disappearance in Region XI under the same period.

Foundation of Lumad schools

Parent-Teacher-Community Association president Lorena Mandacawan said the Salugpongan schools were built in 2007 by Manobo leaders and people in Talaingod due to the government’s failure to bring education services to indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

“Dili ni siya hisgutan sa libreng edukasyon, kini usa ka pagtamak sa among katungod nga mga Lumad sa kaugalingong pag hukom. (Education is not only the issue here, but also the basic humanity and justice for the Lumad in their right to self-determination),” Mandacawan said in a release.

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."

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