DepEd bucks village chief’s shutdown order on ‘lumad school’
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The lumad school in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon ordered closed last week for supposed links with the New People’s Army (NPA) has remained open after the Department of Education (DepEd) rebuked the village chief who ordered the shutdown.
Evelyn Cabangal, a mathematics and sciences teacher at the Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School in Barangay White Kulaman in Kitaotao, said the village chief did not carry out his threats to shut the school down after an official of the DepEd in Malaybalay City called him up to say closing a school is not within the powers of a barangay chairman.
The village chief, Felipe Cabugnason, had written a memorandum order dated October 1 directing the school to voluntarily shut down within two days or be forcibly closed down by village officials.
Cabugnason had accused the school of links with the NPA and of endangering the community.
The school, named after the Catholic priest slain in October 2011 in Arakan town, North Cotabato, is a “boarding high school” run by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc (MISFI) based in Davao City.
With a complement of three teachers, the school has 55 Grades 7 and 8 students, all of whom, together with the teachers, live in a dormitory in the school grounds.
But Cabangal said some of their students, children of lumad farmers and Bisaya and Illongo settlers, had not returned after going home for the weekend.
Military operations against suspected NPA rebels are ongoing in surrounding areas near the school, about an hour’s hike from Poblacion Kitaotao.
“Some of the students have not returned,” Cabangal, in a text message, said.
Cabangal said they were also informed by the DepEd that an official from the department’s division offices in Malaybalay City will be visiting to look into the school.
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