DAVAO

Velez: The Lumad and the Sona

Velez

TyBox

IT IS interesting that the Duterte government held three pre-Sona forums prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) this coming Monday.

What is its purpose? Isn’t it that the Sona itself will be viewed by everyone to know what was accomplished and what is the government’s next plan?

Perhaps this was done for more transparency, or for a specific audience. Like this third and last of this forum that was held last Wednesday in SMX Davao, which tackled the local peace issue, among which is closure of Salugpongan Lumad schools in Talaingod that is being red-tagged by the National Security Adviser.

Speaking in this forum was the director of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Allan Capuyan. He justified the closure of Salugpongan Schools as based on their usual statement that these schools are teaching an anti-government and communist ideology.

Capuyan also said other schools like the Alcadev in Surigao del Sur are also shut down because of the same accusations.

Let us recall that during Duterte’s press conference after his second Sona in 2017, he threatened to bomb Lumad schools, on the accusation that these schools are set up by rebels. We’re seeing now where this all started.

But we have to verify their claims. Both Salugpongan and Alcadev schools have shown proof that they are duly accredited by DepEd, as partners of their Indigenous People’s Education (IPED) and Alternative Learning System (ALS) respectively. Alcadev is still very much in operation, contrary to Capuyan’s claims. Salugpongan was in the process of completing its requirements to obtain their working permits when the suspension order happened.

What is weird is that Capuyan is now saying the government will be setting up P500 million to set up Lumad schools for those disenfranchised Lumad children in Talaingod. The question is, why now? Another question is, is he the DepEd?

From what transpired from this forum, we ask why is the government’s framework of peace and order bent in curtailing a basic right of the Lumad: the right to education.

It seems what they are saying is that schools like Salugpongan are the cause of “un-peace”? I agree much with what the Inquirer editorial said that it is hard to talk peace when you have “hard fists”, or what Lumad advocates said, “a militaristic approach”.

Sadly, this kind of “peace” is causing not only the displacement of the Lumad, but also its division among those who side with the military and those who fight for self-determination.

Overall this shows that the Lumad can’t find their state in this state of the nation.


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