Bayan Muna rep asks House to investigate forced closure of Lumad schools

Nov. 05, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat recently filed a resolution in Congress calling for an investigation on the closure of Salugpongan schools in Mindanao.

Cullamat filed House Resolution 476 urging the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples and National Cultural Communities to investigate the closure order on Salugpongan schools issued by the Department of Education (DepEd) last month.

In her privilege speech on Monday (Nov.4), Cullamat urged to investigate the role of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in the closure of the Salugpongan schools.

Esperon previously accused these schools of not following the DepEd curriculum and teaching “ideologies that advocate against the government”.

But Cullamat stressed that the curriculum followed in these IP schools is not different to the one used in schools in urban areas–possible even more appropriate to the culture of the Lumad.

She added that since the schools were established, the Lumad people have had improvements in their communities, including improvement on farm production and on children’s literacy.

“May tulong man o wala ang pamahalaan, tanggap namin—at nakahanda kaming mga Lumad—na balikatin ang edukasyon ng aming mga supling at susunod na salinlahi. Subalit nakalulungkot—at lubhang nakapanggalit—na sa halip na tulungan, o pabayaan na lamang kaming mga katutubo sa aming edukasyon, ay ipinapasara pa ng gobyerno ang mga paaralaang pinaghirapan naming itayo,” Cullamat said.

(With or without help from the government, we are willing to exert efforts to continue the education of our children and for our next generation. But what’s unfortunate–and also infuriating–is that instead of giving support, or leaving the IPs alone with our education, the government is now shutting down the schools we built.)

The Manobo lawmaker also urged Congress not to allow the further extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, which she said is directly targeting the IPs.

‘Lumad’s right to self determination’

Lorena Mandacawan, Parent-Teacher-Community Association president of the Salugpongan schools in Talaingod, Davao del Norte reiterated that their schools were built when the government for many years “failed to bring the much-needed education services to the indigenous people in Mindanao”.

“Education is not only the issue here, but also the basic humanity and justice for the Lumad in their right to self-determination,” Mandacawan said.

According to Save our Schools (SOS) Network, 153 Lumad schools were already closed in Mindanao, displacing around 4,000 Lumad and Moro students since the start of the Duterte administration.

Salugpongan teacher Jenny Rose Hayahay urged the Congress to look into the reports that the Lumad schools were forcibly closed by the DepEd, the military, and the local governments to pave way for mining interests in the ancestral lands of the IPs.

“Closing Lumad schools is an attempt of the government, in cahoots with mining companies, to curtail our effort to raise our level of consciousness regarding our rights as indigenous communities to our ancestral domains and our capability to determine our future,” Hayahay said. (

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