DAVAO CITY – A network of education rights advocates has recorded 95 cases of attacks against teachers and students in Lumad schools all over Mindanao since September last year.

Prof. Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa, convenor of Save our Schools Network in Mindanao (SOS) said the figure “include the various harassment by the paramilitary and soldiers against the Salugpongan Learning Center and MISFI Academy in Davao Region and neighboring boundaries.”

“Among the notable cases include the present attempt of the barangay captain in White Culaman, Bukidnon to close down the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (Misfi) Academy despite the order from the DepEd not to attempt the school closure,” she said.

On October 1, the barangay chairman of White Culamanin Kitaotao town, Felipe Cabugnason, has issued Barangay Memorandum Order No. 04 ordering the closure of the Misfi Academy for allegations that the school is an NPA school.

The order said the NPAs are the ones who facilitated the building of the school and therefore is “a threat to the safety of the people living in our barangay.”

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The SOS said the killing of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development Inc (Alcadev) director Emerito Samarca in Han-ayan, Surigao del Sur last September 1 “highlights the worsening attacks from state security forces against Lumad schools and communities.”

“Lumad children have been exposed to life-threatening conditions as their schools are continuously being occupied and/or attacked by state security forces, this has to stop!” said Templa during the first Lumad Children’s Congress held since Tuesday in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

The congress was attended by 200 school children and teachers who reported on the attacks against them.

Templa said there is an average of eight attacks every month against students and teachers.

“Such cases have raise alarm from educators of the violations of the military and government officials against the right to education,” she said.

“The gathering here today represents the voice of all lumad children in Mindanao in their struggle for their right to education. Their struggle is also our struggle. We will certainly not waste the effort of these children” Templa added.

The Children’s Congress held workshops with the schoolchildren, who wrote out their calls to President Benigno Aquino III to protect their schools by ordering the pullout of the military and paramilitary groups in their schools and communities.

Templa said the results of the Children’s Congress will be raised to the Third Save Our Schools Mindanao-wide Conference, which will start on Friday after the closing of the Children’s Congress. She said they will raise the call to revoke the Department of Education Memo 211 that allows the presence of the military in schools.

“The start of the 3rd SOS Mindanao Wide Conference tomorrow will feature different support organizations and individuals aiming to identify more concrete resolutions on the worsening situation of children’s rights violation and attacks on schools. We will persevere to help our lumad children attain their dreams,” said Templa. (davaotoday.com)

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