DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Indigenous people from Mindanao travelled for more than a thousand miles just to let the public know about the dire situation of their schools.
This, after Education Secretary Leonor Briones, according to concerned groups, appeared to be mum on the issues raised by the Lumad schools.
As a response, since November 16, students of Lumad schools, along with their parents, teachers and supporters trooped in front of the Department of Education (DepEd) central office in Pasig City.
Save Our Schools (SOS) Network slammed Secretary Briones’ claim that their process of permitting schools to operate is non-discriminatory and demands the agency to recognize and issue permit for IP schools.
SOS Network Mindanao spokesperson Rius Valle mentioned that over a hundred Lumad schools are still processing permit to operate and recognition.
“The Department of Education (DepEd) is imposing layer upon layers of impossible standards that do not match the actual situation and needs of Lumad communities, including electrical wiring plans where grid power do not feed into their villages,” Valle said.
They also demand Briones to revoke DepEd Memo No. 221 issued by former secretary Armin Luistro, which serves as a guide for the military to conduct activities within school premises.
In other words, the military, according to Valle, are allowed to enter schools and interfere in academic activities as “part of their counter insurgency operations.”
Aside from securing permits, the SOS Network also demands Briones to issue a statement condemning military attacks and investigate the reported cases of rights abuses in over 200 IP schools in Mindanao.
The Lumad students and teachers are planning to continue their camp out until their demands are heard.
Here’s a glimpse of the IP schools’ condition since the start of the Duterte administration.