DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in Southern Mindanao on Tuesday, through its convenor Aisha dela Cruz slammed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio over the allegations she made against the group and the Salugpongan schools in Mindanao.
Dela Cruz described Duterte-Carpio’s allegations as “baseless and malicious.”
SOS Network is a leading advocate for the education of lumad children in Mindanao.
In a recent statement, Duterte-Carpio said that the SOS Network “continues to shamelessly lick its wound publicly over the closure of Salugpongan schools.”
The mayor added that the group has been “relentless in its efforts to sow disinformation about the government and why the closure was enforced.”
The Salugpongan schools, built-in several communities in hinterlands of the city and the rest of Mindanao were ordered suspended by the Department of Education (DepEd) last July.
The said suspension was questioned by various groups, among them the SOS Network, saying that the order was issued without due process.
Dela Cruz said the mayor has demonized the SOS Network as an organization that works to provide education to the displaced lumad children.
Duterte-Carpio further accused the SOS Network of “forcibly bringing out Lumad children from their communities to the cities to be used as poster boys and girls in their anti-government agenda.”
The mayor also branded the Bakwit Schools that were opened in some universities, including the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, as “another ploy to solicit pity and money from the public.”
Duterte-Carpio said that the money generated by the group in fundraising activities is allegedly used to finance anti-government activities that “also allow them to continue their oppression of our Lumad communities, especially children.”
Dela Cruz, in the statement, raised to Duterte-Carpio the continuing militarization in the hinterlands of Mindanao that displace thousands of Lumad from their ancestral lands.
“It is not the organization (SOS Network) but actually the militarization in the hinterlands, that forces Lumad children to go down from the countryside,” Dela Cruz said.
She questioned the manner DepEd and the local government of Davao City responded when displaced Lumad asked for help in the midst of their plight.
“If it was immediately addressed, and schools were then established for the IPs (Indigenous Peoples), why do they still need to build schools by their own efforts?” Dela Cruz asked.
Duterte-Carpio bared that the city government through the City Peace and Order Council submitted on March 19 a resolution to DepEd requesting to cancel completely the permits to operate of Salugpongan schools in Davao City.
The mayor said that the resolution is based on grounds that include the persistent problem of Salugpongan students not having academic records and individual learner’s reference number; and the presence of DepEd schools in areas where Salugpongan operates, which overrule the purpose of a Salugpongan school.
She also pointed out reports of Lumad students taught on how to use firearms and “indoctrinated” with anti-government propaganda.
The Salugpongan administration have already submitted its response to DepEd’s order, refuting the said claims against their schools.
Recently, City Councilor Pamela Librado-Morata made a call to her colleagues in Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) of Davao City to hear the sentiments of the affected Lumad communities.
Librado-Morata also recognized the help provided by groups in setting up schools in far-flung areas that provide education to IP learners. (davaotoday.com)