Davao SP member calls for reopening of lumad schools

Sep. 25, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The ongoing calls to reopen the lumad schools in Mindanao and Davao City got a boost as a member of the city council here openly declared her support to the said cause.

In a privilege speech delivered on Tuesday, Councilor Pamela Librado-Morata bared that seven schools of Salugpongan Community Learning Center and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) are located in Davao City, particularly in far flung areas in Paquibato, Marilog and Baguio District.

Librado-Morata said the seven IP schools in the hinterlands of Davao City are among the 55 IP schools ordered to be temporarily closed by not releasing their permits to operate by the Department of Education 11 (DepEd-11).

The councilor also questioned DepEd’s suspension order released in July this year which only relied on the allegations made by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., claiming that the said schools were used to teach “ideologies that advocate against the government”.

“I rise to appeal to my colleagues that we need to verify this accusation and see how as a collective body we can address the need to protect the rights of the Lumad children to education and to protect them from these issues,” Librado-Morata said.

She also pointed out that these schools have since been duly accredited and given authority to operate by DepEd as shown in their renewed government permits.

“This was done all through the collective participation of all the stakeholders involved, especially the host communities who were witnesses to the gradual development of the schools from being literacy-numeracy programs into formal institutions,” the councilor emphasized.

Librado-Morata noted that these Lumad schools also adhered to DepEd Memo No. 62 series of 2011 or “Adopting the National Indigenous People’s (IP) Education Policy Framework” that intends to be “an instrument for promoting shared accountability, continuous dialogue, engagement, and partnership among government, IP communities, civil society, and other education stakeholders.”

She further questioned the process of DepEd’s suspension “without undergoing due process” of investigating first to verify the claims of Esperon’s report.

“From these initial facts, what has actually emerged at that point is that the Department of Education, instead of invoking basic due process and conducting its own probe into the veracity of the allegations, appears to have decided right then and there the fate of these schools on the basis of hearsay,” she said.

Administrators of Salugpongan schools said they received the suspension order amid their communication with the DepEd for the process of renewing the permits to operate of their schools.

The displacement of children brought by the closure of IP schools, she stressed, is “not only an issue of due process but a question on the State’s constitutional duty to provide education to our Filipino children.”

“The complimentary role they play in mobilizing what little resources they have just to set-up schools in far-flung areas should not be subject of empty threats and malicious accusations,” Librado-Morata said, adding that more schools are needed to cater millions of IP learners all over the country.

“Let us make room for dialogue and listen to the sentiments of the lumad communities affected, for the rights of our indigenous peoples are the same human rights accorded to each one of us. Let their children continue with their schooling and in our pursuit for social justice, may their call to save their schools, be our collective call as well,” she said.

Meanwhile, Beverly Godofredo, chairperson of Liga ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan (LIB) hoped that the local government of Davao will listen to their appeal and support the call for the re-opening of Lumad schools.

These schools are the way for the Lumad communities to protect their ancestral lands from destruction and plunder, Godofredo said in an interview.

“We invite the local government unit [of Davao] to go to the communities, and check our Lumad schools in the city to see that the allegations against our schools and teachers were not true,” Godofredo said. (davaotoday.com)

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