Sara Duterte draws flak for statement on Lumad schools
DAVAO CITY –– Various Lumad advocates across Mindanao slammed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s statement on Lumad schools after the mayor rebuffed the suggestion by a city councilor here to investigate the schools’ closure in the city’s far-flung villages.
“Ang anak na ito ng pangulo ay hindi na nahiya sa pinagsasasabi niyang kasinungalingan (This daughter of the President has no shame about the lies coming out of her mouth),” Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a Lumad, said in reaction to the mayor’s statement.
“Sa halip na suportahan ang pagsusumikap naming mga Lumad na makapag-aral–na dapat ginawa ng mga katulad niyang opisyal ng pamahalaan–ay itinuturing pa niya itong masama? Anong kabastosan ito (Instead of supporting efforts among us, Lumad,’to go to school–something that public officials like her should have done, in the first place–she even considers it bad? What kind of manner is that)?”
Earlier, Mayor Duterte slammed Councilor Pamela Librado’s appeal to her colleagues to look into the closure of Lumad schools, which had displaced Lumad children, some of them taking refuge in this city.
Duterte said in a statement it was the city government of Davao, through its City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) that requested the closure of 11 Lumad schools here.
The mayor said the CPOC submitted a resolution on March 19 this year, asking the Department of Education (DepEd) to terminate Salugpongan’s permit to operate its 11 schools in the city, citing as basis the absence of academic records and individual learner’s reference number (LRN) among Salugpongan students, which meant, their records in the Lumad schools could not be properly credited with DepEd.
Duterte also said the presence of DepEd schools in areas where Salugpongan operates defeated the purpose of a Salugpongan school.
But Meggie Nolasco, executive director of the Salugpongan schools, said their schools were closed without due diligence or due process. She said Salugpongan was not consulted nor was given the chance to even explain its side.
She also said in an earlier interview that Lumad students who had gone to DepEd schools easily dropped out because they could not cope with the basic expenses there, including those for their shoes and uniforms.
Nolasco said the Lumad schools, which were run by the community and with the help of donors, offered everything to their students for free.
“What is lacking here (in the closure of Salugpongan schools) is due process, which the CPOC, and even the DepEd XI, which ordered the suspension, failed to do,” Nolasco said in the statement.
Nolasco also pointed out the mayor’s lack of basic knowledge about Salugpongan when the mayor said she endorsed the closure of 11 Salugpongan schools in the city.
Nolasco said Salugpongan only ran two schools in the city. “Where did she get the nine other Salugpongan schools? Did she or the CPOC did due diligence to check these facts?” she asked.
Nolasco also said contrary to the mayor’s claim, students in these schools have Learning Reference Numbers, which they would need only when they transferred school.
“When Duterte said DepEd would automatically accept all students from Lumad schools, it simply meant these students had LRN because otherwise, they wouldn’t get accepted in DepEd schools,” Nolasco said.
“Students need the LRN so they could transfer to another school. If not, how can these students be absorbed to DepEd schools?” she asked. “The mayor(‘s statement) just (validated) our schools’ legitimacy since all our students have LRN,” she added.
Nolasco also said Duterte’s basis in closing the Lumad schools sounded similar to the “lies,” peddled by the military which accused the schools of being breeding grounds for the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
By running the schools which catered to the needs of the Lumad, schools like Salugpongan even prevented the Lumad students from joining the armed group, Nolasco said.
“But Mayor Sara fails to see this basic fact: Why are we staying as bakwit [evacuee] in her city and not in our communities? She has not seen the fact that it was her father President Duterte who threatened to bomb Lumad schools in 2017 and such a statement became the military’s blank check to threaten and attack IP communities in various forms.
After that, military and paramilitary operations intensified under Martial Law,” she said.
She added some of their teachers and parents had been harassed and some of the students killed.
“The mayor could have done more due diligence to see that the real injustice to the Lumad is the government’s failure (to do) its responsibility. When 700 billion pesos of the national budget is wasted to corruption; when corruption results in a shortage of 60,000 classrooms; when the military and intelligence funds are used to attack civilians and coerce people to become fake surrenderees; when the Lumad and their advocates are branded as communists or terrorists. These are the real injustices,” Nolasco said.
The Lumad group Pasaka said Duterte’s request for DepEd to close down the Lumad schools was designed to pave the way for the entry of big corporations in the ancestral lands of the Lumad.
“We are greatly saddened by the mayor’s statement,” said a statement from Jong Momzon, secretary-general of Pasaka.
“The continued attacks and accusations against the Lumad schools by the likes of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte only aimed to stop Lumad youth from getting educated to take it upon themselves the act of defending the ancestral land,” said Monzon. With a report from Julianne Suarez
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