AN OFFICIAL from the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) said his group may soon be "forced" to barge their way into the Department of Education (DepEd)-Davao office if officials would still continue to ignore their requests.

The STTICLC members have been camping outside the DepEd-Davao office for about three days now, as they have been calling on the education department to open their community schools in Davao del Norte.

"Dili mi muhawa diri sa among kampo samtang dili makig-atubang si Escobarte (DepEd Davao Director Alberto Escobarte) ug si Dr. Fadul (DepEd Schools Division Superintendent for Davao del Norte, Dr. Josephine Fadul) sa mga estudyante ug sa mga ginikanan ug among admin sa among eskwelahan padayon kami (We will not leave our camp as long as Escobarte and Dr. Fadul will not face the students, parents and the admin of our school)," said Salugpungan council leader Kailo Buntulan in an interview at their camp outside the office.

"Simple lang ang among ginapangayo sa DepEd una ang pag-open sa mga gisarado na eskwelahan ug ikaduha ang DepEd dili magpagamit sa mga sundalo (Our request to DepEd is just simple: to open the schools and not allow the soldiers to use the agency)," he said.

Sun.Star Davao tried to contact Escobarte for comment through his mobile phone but received no response as of press time Wednesday, June 17.

Earlier reports said the lumad schools operated by the STTICLC were closed as recommended by Davao del Norte Schools Division Superintendent Josephine Fadul through a letter to Escobarte.

The temporary closure of the schools reportedly had the backing of the Talaingod Tribal Council of Elders.

DepEd-Davao information officer Jenilito Atillo also denied the groups' accusations that several schools were ordered closed by the Davao del Norte schools division, saying the schools were not opened due to their failure to renew their annual permit to operate.

A total of 255 lumad students are in Davao City, with some joining the ongoing camp outside DepEd-Davao office while others are staying at the United Churches of the Philippines Haran.

Some of these students were reported to have cough and colds and they are only receiving medicine donations from churches.

Buntulan said some of them returned to their areas as Salugpungan teachers still conduct classes despite DepEd's order.