DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Lumad advocates criticize the conduct of a Senate hearing that failed to invite the subject of their inquiry: the Lumad schools and teachers.
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, chaired by Senator Imee Marcos, held a hearing on the suspension of 55 Lumad schools operated by the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI).
The hearing invited officials from the Department of Education and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon who recommended the school’s closure, who attended and presented their allegations that the schools are “recruitment” grounds for the New People’s Army.
But the administration or teachers of Salugpongan were not summoned for the hearing to air their side.
The Save Our Schools Network, a group advocating for the protection of Lumad students, questioned the Senate for such omission.
“It is not only unfair, but it’s a mockery to our Constitution as this is the second time the school was deprived of their right to due process. Salugpongan was not invited to the hearing that concerns them so they couldn’t possibly answer the baseless allegations of the AFP and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon,” the group said in a statement posted in their Facebook page.
The group also criticized DepEd for scheduling a dialogue with the Salugpongan administration in Davao on the same time of the Senate hearing.
Calling the DepEd a “two-faced entertainer”, SOS said the move is “disgusting and cowardly for the Department of Education and National Security Adviser Esperon, who are obviously afraid to confront us because they couldn’t support their allegations with evidence.”
A month ago, DepEd ordered the suspension of Salugpongan schools based on Esperon’s recommendation which alleged the school is a front of the communists and has taught students an “ideologies that advocate against the government”.
The Salugpongan administration has submitted its response to DepEd to refute Esperon’s claims, and is waiting for DepEd to respond. (davaotoday.com)