THE Salugpongan Ta'tanu Igkanugon Community (Salugpungan) claimed the Department of Education (DepEd) was unfair in issuing the suspension order against them.
Salugpungan executive director Meggie Nolasco yesterday told Sunstar Davao that Deped did not get their side before issuing the suspension order.
Deped-Davao publicized the order last July 13, after reviewing the reports from National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and the vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that Salugpungan has been using students in rallies and teaching them ideologies against the government, as stated by Melvin Mansaloon Loyod, a former school volunteer teacher.
Deped regional director Evelyn Fetalvero gave the group until July 22 to submit their response on the case.
She, however, denied the allegations made by Esperon, which was not attached on the Deped order given to them.
"Hiningi sana nila side namin before nagkaroon ng conclusion ang Deped. Pinakita sana nila yung mga allegations against us para may due process. Ihapag nila sa tamang venue," Nolasco said.
"Di kami mabibigyan ng permit for 10 years, 'yung recognition status sa main campus namin would be invalid if di kami sumunod sa guidelines and standards set by Deped if may gi-violate kami," Nolasco said.
The director also refuted the statement of Esperon that the school does not have a Learners Reference Number (LRN) which is a basis for students during enrollments. She said a Salugpungan, with a Deped permit, is automically given an LRN, making their graduates valid learners.
Nolasco said Deped deprived the students on their rights for self-determination and education, by being allowed to be manipulated by the orders of the army.
"Nagulat kami sa inisyung order ng Deped, kasi consistent aming application since natapos ang school year this March," she said, adding they have complied with the necessary requirement.
She said more than 1,400 students all over the region have been affected since the order was executed.
Prior to the suspension, Nolasco said they have been complaining about the harrassments and the militarization in the areas within the Salugpungan schools.
Nolasco said not one representative from Deped set foot from any Salugpungan schools, which makes their investigation one-sided.
"Bukas kami sa investigation para makita ninyo. Kausapin niyo po yung teachers at students namin, at para makita ninyo gaano sila ka-determined magpursige na makahuman og skwela (to finish their studies), at ng community na itaguyod ang paaralan despite militaizantion, harrassment and kahirapan, para makita ng lahat na wasto para sa IPs (indigenous peoples) to establish their own school para sa part ng kanilang pagpapasya in the future," she said.
Meanwhile, the Liga ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan (LIB), in an official statement, said the closure of Lumad schools is one of the continuing struggle experienced since President Rodrigo Duterte said in his 2017 State of the Nation Address (Sona) to bomb the lumad schools in Mindanao.
LIB also said closing these schools would worsen the situation of the students and the community.
"Busa, nanawagan kami nga irevoke sa DepEd ang suspension order nga iyang ulahing gipagula batok sa Salugpongan Schools. Hatagan og bili ang among katungod sa libre ug haum nga edukasyon alang sa pagpabarug sa legasiya sa among mga katigulangan (We are calling Deped to revoke the suspension order against Salugpongan schools. Grant us our rights to education to keep the legacy of our elders)," LIB said.
Deped spokesperson Jenielito Atillo clarified, in a previous report, that the suspension order was their way of giving the Salugpungan camp the chance to air their side on the allegations thrown against them.
Atillo also said they are not being dictated by the military, contrary to the claim of Salugpungan.