DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Salugpongan Community Learning Center is asking the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 11 to produce the report of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon that served as basis for the suspension of its 55 campuses in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
The school’s executive director Meggie Nolasco said they asked DepEd for the copy of the report in preparation for their appeal to DepEd to have their suspension removed.
“We want to obtain a copy of the report because we want to answer it one by one,” said Nolasco.
DepEd 11’s order of suspension was based on a report by Esperon claiming the school is teaching its pupils “ideologies that advocate against government” and using children in protest rallies.
Esperon claimed to have a copy of an affidavit by a former teacher which accused the school of anti-government activities, including “learning the song of the New People’s Army, using firearms, clearing the body of dead soldiers.”
Nolasco believes there was no due process in calling for the suspension of the Salugpongan schools.
“We are in talks with our legal counsel on this. They cannot just issue an order of suspension with a simple reason that they received a report from Esperon saying that Salugpongan is teaching these Lumad children to go against the government. In fact, that is all an allegation,” Nolasco said.
DepEd 11 spokesperson Jenelito Atillo said they are giving Salugpongan ample time to counter Esperon’s report. They have extended its deadline from July 17 to July 22 for the school to show cause that they should not be suspended.
Nolasco expressed surprise that the order was made on the week that they were completing the new requirements for the renewal of the schools’ permit to operate.
“We have already finished processing all the needed requirements for the renewal of our permit. This is obviously an attack to Lumad schools and the only reason they can use now is these allegations,” Nolasco said.
Meanwhile, Lumad advocates have criticized DepEd for ordering the suspension based on a military report.
The Save Our Schools Network said DepEd gave an order “without even verifying the wild baseless claims of Esperon,” and “have neglected their duty to uphold the protection of schools, and surrendered to the military supremacy.”
The Makabayan Coalition in the House of Representatives have filed a resolution to investigate why DepEd ordered this suspension.
The Salugpongan School, established by the tribal organization Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon in 2003 originally as a literacy-numeracy school through the support of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
It later established a boarding school for students living in remote barangays, and has obtained accreditation from DepEd for its Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) program while following the K to 12 curriculum. (davaotoday.com)