A Joint Statement of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy and the Parents-Teachers Community Association of Lumad Schools on September 18, 2017
Are recent incidents on Lumad schools a prelude to Martial Law?
A contingent from Lumad schools was derailed from taking a flight to attend a Manila conference, while a Lumad school in Indangan forcibly entered by fully-armed police happened last Saturday. Are these signs of Martial Law?
Airport police barred 32 Lumad students, teachers and parents to fly to attend their scheduled attendance to the Save Our Schools Network national conference set on September 16 on 1 pm.
Airport officials did not recognize the travel permits of the minors which were duly signed and approved by the CSSDO. We are surprised by the technical reasons given by them that the travel permits have no seal of CSSDO, insinuating that those were fake. Such “validation” of the document issued by CSSDO delayed their travel and forced them to take the 12:50pm instead of 10:10am flight schedule.
The CSSDO defended this incident as a matter of security for children. But we see the CSSDO has flip-flopped from authorizing the travel of children and later preventing these same children from doing so.
Due to this incident, the students and teachers failed to attend the conference held in UP Diliman.
On that same morning of September 16 at around 5:45 am, some 15 to 20 police officers in full battle gear intruded into the compound of MISFI (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc.) in Indangan, Buhangin. They arrived in two police vehicles, made their way to the back of the old building and like thieves, passed over the fence. They did not bother to inform or ask permission to teachers and staff workers about entering the compound.
It is disturbing that police in full-battle gear will intrude into a school compound with no valid reason at this period of government’s tokhang, and the authorities’ tendency of filing of trumped-up charges, fabricating stories and planting evidence to justify their foul-ups.
That is why these two incidents are more than alarming. Given that Lumad schools and communities have been frequently attacked, from the shooting on teachers, the killing of student Obello Bay-ao in Talaingod, to the threat of President Duterte to bomb schools and red tag them. We can’t separate what happened on Saturday to the ongoing attacks and repression of Lumad schools and communities.
It is a disturbing sign that with Duterte’s threat of extending Martial Law nationwide, and the repression of the rights of the Lumads will worsen.
This all the more pushes us to resist tyranny and repression of the people’s rights.
With these signs, we are all the more challenged to unite and defend the right of the children to education, the safety of schools and communities by declaring them free from armed state security forces and paramilitaries.
We remind the Duterte administration, that no force and underhand measures can suppress those who seek the rights and advancement of the Lumads and their future generation.
MISFI Executive Director