Gaerlan: Duterte’s order to bomb Lumad schools just a ‘figure of speech’

Jul. 26, 2017

FIGURE OF SPEECH. Police Regional Office 11 Regional Director Police Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan says President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to “bomb” Lumad schools should not be taken literally. In a press conference on Wednesday, July 26, Gaerlan said the president only meant to close down the schools, who were allegedly operating without permits and teaching subversive thought to young Lumad students. (Paulo C. Rizal/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A police official here claims that President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of “bombing the Lumad schools” in Mindanao was merely an exaggeration, and should not be taken literally.

“Umalis kayo dyan, sabihin ko sa mga Lumad. Bobombahan ko iyan, isali ko iyang mga istraktura ninyo (Get out of there, I’ll tell the Lumad. I’ll bomb the structures),” Duterte said during his press conference after his 2nd State of the Nation Address.

“I will use the Armed Forces, the Philippine Air Force. You are operating illegally and you are teaching the children to rebel against government,” Duterte said.

While Duterte did not name the specific schools, Police Regional Office 11 Regional Director​,​ Police Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan​,​ said Duterte ​was referring to the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, a Lumad school founded by religious groups and non government organizations with campuses in Region 11.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Gaerlan said the ​P​resident meant ​”​that the schools were to be abolished because they were operating illegally​”​.

Gaerlan supported the statement, saying the schools were not regulated by the Department of Education, but were teaching subversion against the government.

Gaerlan claimed the school was being run by communists.

“Yung sinabi ng ating ​P​angulo na bombahin, it’s just a figure of speech. Buwagin na ‘yan, parang ganun. Buwagin in a legal manner because actually, they don’t have any permits. Ang tinuturo doon, hindi naman accordance with Deped policies. ‘Pag sinabi nating school, dapat regulated by the Department of Education (When the ​P​
resident said, ‘bomb it,’ it’s just a figure of speech. Close it down, something to that effect. Abolish it in a legal manner because actually, they don’t have any permits. Their curriculum is not in accordance with Deped policies. Schools should be regulated by the Department of Education),” Gaerlan said.

However, in a previous interview, Deped Region 11 Spokesperson Jenielito Atillo clarified that the schools have indeed, secured permits.

In an interview on July 3, Atillo told Davao Today they have provided close to 60 permits for private institutions catering to Lumad learners in Region 11.

​Fifty-five of these permits were issued to Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Learning Center, said Sarika Calimbo, field officer of STTICLCI.

Atillo said all private institutions seeking to establish schools have to undergo a formal process before they can secure government permission.

“They have to go through a process. We have to accredit them, they have to go through the evaluation. If they can pass the evaluation, then by all means we have to provide the authority, we have to provide the permit for them to legally function and operate. And we are doing that,” Atillo said.

“So far as we can remember, wala man tay gi-deny na institutions na nagserbisyo sa atong mga Lumad, basta kay mulusot lang sa evaluations” (So far as we can remember, we have not denied any institutions who serve the Lumad, provided that they pass the evaluations), he added.

Schools under attack

The teachers and students of STTICLC are no stranger to the allegations.

Just last month, classes came to a halt in the school’s campus in Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte after Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit personnel Rodel Butanlog fired upon the school, piercing walls and grazing a young student in his private parts.

Butanlog has since been dismissed after military investigators verified the incident, but has since been set free in absence of criminal charges that should be filed with the police.

However, STTICLC school teacher Ramel Miguel, along with fellow teachers Roylan Licayan and Ayen Langayed, parent Reta Bay-ao, and student Marjun Manlingkaw have filed complaints with the Commission on Human Rights Region 11.

The complaint accused the army of extrajudicial killings, frustrated murder, illegal arrests, threats, harassment, intimidation, destruction of school property, and school encampment.

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, Lt. Col. Vicente Edgardo De Ocampo, Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, Lt. Col. Gilbert Roy Ruiz, and Lt. Col. Michael Licyayo were named as the respondents.

The attack on the Salugpongan school in Talaingod started the mass evacuation of Lumad students to Davao City, who camped outside the Department of Public Works and Highways in Panacan, and then outside the Department of Education Region 11 office this month to air their plight to the authorities.

Some of these Lumad students also joined the multi-sectoral rally that met Duterte’s SONA at the Batasan Complex.

Duterte’s statements did not sit well with the students, who now fear that the president’s statements would come into fruition. A day after the SONA, the students extolled Duterte to “lend them their ears,” instead of listening to his military advisers.

Progressive solons and the Human Rights Watch also asked Duterte to retract his statement, which they said was an “endorsement of violence and murder against indigenous peoples.” (

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