DAVAO CITY, Philippines – In the midst of continuing threats against their schools in Mindanao, more than a hundred displaced students of Lumad schools who joined the “Kampuhan” will continue their schooling in a state university in Quezon City.
“Lumad students who are staging a Kampuhan sa UP (University of the Philippines) Diliman will resume their class in what they call ‘bakwit schools’ to symbolize their protest on the attacks of their schools in Mindanao,” the Save Our School Network said in a press statement on Monday.
SOS said some 109 students including Grade Six pupils from Caraga Region and junior and senior high school students from Davao Region will continue their formal classes in an alternative setting inside their Kampuhan site at UP.
Teachers who accompanied the students for the Kampuhan will resume their classes, the SOS said, as they expect volunteer teachers from the UP community and other members of the academe in the area to provide support to the classes of the lumad students.
“We opted to remain in Manila after we failed to get the support of President Rodrigo Duterte to protect the Lumad schools from continuing attacks,” said Rius Valle, spokesperson of SOS.
Duterte threatened to destroy Lumad schools as he accused them of operating without the necessary permits from the Department of Education.
The President’s claim was refuted by teachers and students of Lumad schools showing the pertinent papers they acquired by the DepED and the local government units in Mindanao where they operate.
“Classes are being temporarily held here as students expressed fear that they might be welcomed with bombs and harassment,” Valle added.
He said fear continue to affect Lumad school teachers and students after Armed Forces Chief, Gen. Eduardo Año, reiterated the President’s plan to destroy Lumad schools for being utilized by the New People’s Army.
“The truth is, these schools are teaching the students to value life and dignity. Meaning they are taught on ways to defend their ancestral land and their rights as indigenous people,” Valle said.
He also challenged Duterte to witness for himself their classes in UP Diliman to see what the students are learning.
“We urge you to lend your ears to the Lumad children, Mr. President. Please ask them instead and not your war-mongering military advisers. The students also hope to reach out to President Duterte for them to achieve their dreams of finishing education,” Valle said. (davaotoday.com)