Lumad backers push back vs Sara’s echo of dad’s ‘lies’ vs IP schools as Red breeding ground
DAVAO CITY—Officials and supporters of lumad schools across Mindanao pushed back against Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s statements that the city government was behind the closure of the schools because of violations of the law, an echo of her father’s rant, although not backed by evidence, that the schools were a training ground for future communist rebels.
“This daughter of the President has no shame about the lies coming out of her mouth,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a lumad, in a statement reacting to what the mayor had said about lumad schools.
Mayor Duterte, reacting to Councilor Pamela Librado’s plea for an investigation of the closure of lumad schools, said it was the city government which had asked authorities to shut down at least 11 lumad schools in Davao City.
Cullamat said Mayor Duterte refused to see the effort of lumad to get education and instead of supporting it, “considers it bad.”
In her statement, Mayor Duterte said the city’s Peace and Order Council had requested for the closure of the schools.
The mayor said the council submitted a resolution last March 19 asking the Department of Education (DepEd) to revoke the permits to operate of 11 schools being run by the group Salugpongan in the city.
The mayor’s statement said Salugpongan schools kept no academic records and individual learner’s reference number (LRN) which the mayor said meant that lumad school records were not recognized by the DepEd.
Mayor Duterte also said the presence of DepEd schools in areas where Salugpongan operated eliminated the need for lumad schools.
But Meggie Nolasco, executive director of the Salugpongan schools, said the schools were closed without due diligence or due process. Salugpongan was neither consulted nor given a chance to explain, she said.
In an earlier interview, Nolasco had said lumad students who go to DepEd schools tend to drop out because the children, all from poor families, could not cope with expenses like cost of shoes and uniform.
Nolasco said in contrast, lumad schools run by the community with the help of donors offer everything to students for free.
Nolasco, in a statement by Salugpongan, said the mayor obviously lacked knowledge about the group.
Salugpongan, said Nolasco, ran only two schools in the city. “Did she check these facts?” Nolasco said.
Contrary to the mayor’s statement, students in Salugpongan schools have LRNs “which they would need only when they transfer school.”
A statement by the mayor that DepEd would automatically accept all students from lumad schools meant only that the students had LRNs. “Otherwise, they won’t get accepted in DepEd schools,” Nolasco said.
Nolasco said Mayor Duterte’s basis for closing lumad schools sounded familiar—they were “lies” being peddled by the military against the schools, branding these as breeding ground of New People’s Army guerrillas.
Nolasco said what the authorities refused to see was that the operations of lumad schools had prevented lumad children from being drawn to the armed group.
“But Mayor Sara fails to see this basic fact: Why are we evacuees in her city and are not in our communities?” Nolasco said.
Mayor Duterte also seemed to gloss over “the fact that it was her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, who threatened to bomb lumad schools in 2017.”
“Such statement became the military’s blank check to threaten and attack IP communities in various forms,” said Nolasco.
“After that, military and paramilitary operations intensified under martial law,” she said.
Nolasco said some teachers and parents had been harrassed and students killed.
Mayor Duterte, said Nolasco, “could have done more due diligence to see that the real injustice to the lumad is the government’s failure” to provide education to all.
“When 700 billion pesos of the national budget is wasted on corruption, when corruption results in a shortage of 60,000 classrooms, when the military and intelligence funds are used to attack civilians, when the lumad and their advocates are branded as communists or terrorists,” Nolasco said. “These are the realy injustices.”
The lumad group Pasaka said Mayor Duterte’s request for the closure of lumad schools was meant to pave the way for the entry of big corporations into lumad land. “We are greatly saddened by the mayor’s statement,” said Jong Monzon, Pasaka secretary general.
Monzon said continued attacks and branding of lumad schools as communist can only mean the government wanted to “stop lumad youth from getting educated.” With a report by Julianne Suarez/TSB
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