ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines called the suspension order of the Department of Education (DepEd) to Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community (Salugpungan) as a deprivation of the Lumad’s educational rights.
“These Lumad schools were established out of the initiatives of Lumad communities themselves following decades of state abandonment. And now, Deped have again betrayed their duty and the interests of these children by ordering its closure on questionable grounds,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said in an issued statement.
DepEd-Davao issued a suspension order to Salugpungan and its affiliates after reviewing the reports from National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. 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.
However, ACT said they questioned DepEd for basing Esperon’s statement as the basis for the issuance of the order.
The teacher’s union called the order a “betrayal of Lumad children in the name of the state’s fascist policies”, wherein they cited previous instances DepEd failed to take action on paramilitary harassment and forced school closures.
“By bowing to military command, DepEd is effectively saying that the government’s war and fascism trumps the youth’s democratic right to education. It gave more weight to the military’s destructive and fascist maneuvers than it did to Lumad children’s cry for education,” Basillo said.
ACT, meanwhile, said Salugpungan “faithfully complied” with the requirements of DepEd in establishing these community schools.
Alliance of Community Educators (ACE), Salugpungan’s teachers’ organization, is an affiliate member of ACT.
ACT Davao Region president Elenito Escalante, meanwhile, urged the agency to set foot on these farflung schools to personally experience the struggles these students had experienced all throughout.
“Asa na ang no student left behind sa DepEd nga sa ani nga kahimtang gihukasan sa katungog ang luoy na kaayo nga mga lumad nga ang panganduy.makabasa og makasulat [sic] (Where is the DepEd’s motto that ‘no student should be left behind’? Their order deprived the Lumads right to dream, read and write),” Escalante said in a Facebook message.
Salugpungan executive director Meggie Nolasco, in a previous report, said the DepEd’s order is “unfair” for they did not get their side before issuing the order.
DepEd spokesperson Jenielito Atillo clarified that the order was not a total verdict of the case but an opportunity for them to have to respond to the allegations against them, including using these students for rallies, DepEd has given them until Monday, July 22, the same day wherein President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his State of the Nation Address speech.