Militant solon accuses AFP of using funds to ‘attack’ Lumad schools

Aug. 18, 2017

Lumad leaders and students from Southern Mindanao Region, CARAGA and SOCCSKSARGEN call on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the military attacks in lumad schools and the lift the martial law as they joined the protest actions in the Kampuhan (camp out) aheade of President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address at the historic Mendiola Bridge in Manila. (Alex D. Lopez/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A militant lawmaker scored the Armed Forces of the Philippines for using public funds to attack various Lumad schools in Mindanao.

Alliance of Concerned Teacher Rep. France Castro, in a statement on Thursday, said the spate of attacks perpetuated by the AFP against schools and civilians “violates Philippine laws as well as international humanitarian and human rights laws.”

Castro’s statement came during the AFP’s budget deliberation for 2018. Apart from the attack, she said, the stakeholders of Lumad schools—teachers, students and community leaders— were also subjected to threats, harassments and intimidations.

She also accused soldiers of encamping ​inside ​Lumad schools and destroying the school properties.

“Whether or not these schools have permits or even if they are empty, these are civilian structures so it is a crime–even a war crime–for the military to attack them,” she said.

“Worse is the bomb threat issued by President Duterte against Lumad schools and his malicious accusation that they are ‘illegal’ and being used by the NPA,” Castro said.

On the day he delivered his second State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte warned he will order the government troops to bomb Lumad schools that teaches subversion and Communism to students. The statement was met with protests by Lumad students and teachers who are now in Manila to speak about the attacks they experience in the communities.

But Army officials said the President’s statement only sent out strong warning against schools who are operating illegally.

In a press conference on July 28, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr. clarified that Duterte’s statement “does not intend to destroy” lumad schools and communities.

“It was just a matter of strongly communicating a strong position on behalf of government to warn the illegal educational centers which are not complying with government regulation,” he said.

“That is how we understood the President and that is how we see and appreciate his comments regarding this. Not intended to really destroy the community but to extend a message, a very strong message, to the people behind the organization of these illegal learning institutions to comply with government regulation,” he added.
Castro said the attacks against the Lumad schools have been intensified following Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.

“This is how the AFP uses its budget. It targets disadvantaged sectors like Lumad peasants who are only struggling for their rights to education and self-determination. It unleashes indiscriminate terror against civilians through aerial bombings and shelling of communities,” she lamented.

“This is the peoples’ money used against them. Already, the AFP has spent P3 billion for indiscriminate warfare in Mindanao. A single bomb used in an airstrike costs P323,000, and the military has so far used about 2,000,” Castro said.

Castro reiterated the group’s earlier calls for “the military and its paramilitaries to stop their attacks on Lumad schools and end aerial bombings in Mindanao.”

Three private schools in Mindanao are accused of not securing permits from the Department of Education namely, Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, Inc. or the Alcadev; the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, Inc. or the Clans; and the Salugpungan Community Learning Center. However, in a statement on August 2, the Federation of Community Schools PTCA in Mindanao denied that the schools are operating illegally.
The group said the schools have secured permits and were even awarded with recognitions by the Deped. (

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