MEMBERS of lumad organizations affected by the closure of lumad community schools in Davao del Norte said Wednesday that they will keep on conducting protests to stop the order from the Department of Education (DepEd).
Pasaka (Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao) spokesperson Isidro Indao said they would keep on staging protests until their call to resume their classes would be heard.
"We, the parents, envy Davao City because classes have already started while up there in our mountain villages, our schools were closed," Indao said in the vernacular.
Pasaka, together with some members of Salugpongan 'Ta Tatanu Ig Kanogon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Lands) and Karadyawan, a local indigenous people's organization in Kapalong town, Davao del Norte, staged a protest to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Davao and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday.
Indao said they are calling for the NCIP and CHR to go to their area to investigate and see the presence of armed forces.
The closure of the lumad schools in Talaingod town, operated by the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC), was recommended by Davao del Norte Schools Division Superintendent Josephine Fadul through her May 12 letter to DepEd-Davao Director Alberto Escobarte, saying the temporary closure of the schools had the backing of the Talaingod Tribal Council of Elders.
Fadul also recommended the opening of a public school in Barangay Butay that would be run by "para-teachers" from the military.
Datu Doloman Dawsay, spokesperson of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, said that the decision to close down their schools comes from so-called leaders who do not represent the Talaingod Manobos.
"Those who are in the municipal tribal council, they are keeping things to themselves. They probably don't even know how to get around our area. What right do they have to shut our schools down, when it is the Salugpungan that truly represents the people?" Dawsay said.
He said they will even resort to war in order for their schools to be opened.
"We've built these schools for many years. They want it closed after a few minutes of signing papers. We will not allow it. We will wage pangayaw (tribal vendetta), if it is the need," Dawsay said.
Indao said about 3,000 students from the 13 schools in Talaingod and six schools in Kapalong have been affected by the closure.
Meanwhile, NCIP regional hearing officer Jose Dumagan Jr. said they have been waiting since February to receive evidences from the lumad organization after they had an agreement for them to file a formal complaint to the Department of National Defense.
"Since then, we have not received any evidences from them," Dumagans said.