Tribal chief chides group for opposing closure of Salugpungan schools

A TRIBAL leader slammed Wednesday, October 9, the youth group Kabataan party-list for opposing the Department of Education's (DepEd) order to shut down the operations of 55 Salugpungan schools in Davao region.

The DepEd on Tuesday, October 8, directed the permanent closure of 55 schools for indigenous peoples in the Davao region, following the supposed irregularities committed by the school management.

But for Kabataan party-list, the closure order only deprives the indigenous peoples' (IPs) communities of their right to education.

Datu Malapandaw Nestor Apas, chief of Langilan Manobo tribe of Davao del Norte, said the party-list has no right to question the DepEd's order.

Apas stressed that the closure of Salugpungan schools is necessary to save indigenous children in the country from having a "radical mind."

"Ang desisyon lang ng community namin is to abolish the Salugpungan school because mayroong masamang mangyayari at baka maubos na kami, magiging radical ang utak," the tribal chief told Palace reporters in a press briefing.

(The decision of our community is to abolish Salugpunan school because it has negative impact on us. Our population might decline because our members might have a radical mind.)

"Hindi natin matatawag na pag-deprive sa amin. Sino ba talagang IP doon? Kabataan party-list o kaming nandoon? Itong mga kasama ko, taga-Mindanao, ang taga-partylist, dito lang sa NCR (National Capital Region). Bakit ba sila magsasalita? Wala kayong alam doon sa amin. Kayo, ang mga anak kaya ninyo ang pag-aralin sa Salugpungan. P***** i** kayo," he added.

(We cannot call that deprivation. Who are the IPs? The Kabataan party-list or us who are there? Those who are with me here are from Mindanao, while members of the party-kist are from the NCR. So why do you have to issue a statement? You know nothing about us. How would you feel if your children go to Salugpungan schools? Son of a b****.)

The DepEd announced the total closure of 55 Salugpungan Tatanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. in the Davao Region, after results of the investigation conducted by the agency found substantial evidence of irregularities against the educational institutions.

The DepEd's investigation showed that the Salugpungan schools failed to use government-approve curriculum; bring students away from their homes without parental consents; used students to generate funds; had unlicensed teachers; and operated in the ancestral domain of IPS without community consent.

In July, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. accused the Salugpungan tribal school system of promoting the ideology of the Communisty Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Datu Joel Dahusay, a former lecturer at the Salugpungan school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, claimed that the communist movement was behind the establishment of Salugpungan learning centers that are being used as a breeding ground for the members of its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

"Para ma-organize nila ang isang community, komunidad namin, tumayo sila, gumawa sila ng eskwelahan ng NPA katulad ng Salugpungan Tatanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (To organize our community, they built a school for NPA like the Salugpungan Tatanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center)," Dahusay, who joined Apas at the press conference, said.

"Ang lahat ng eskwelahan na ito ay ito ay pugad ng mga rebelde. Alam ba ninyo na bawat year, taon na may mag-graduate doon sa kanilang eskwelahan ay madagdagan ang mga front ng CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front)," he added.

(All these schools are training ground for rebels. You know, every year, the school graduates serve as legal fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF.)

Datu Asenad Bago, a former Salugpungan student, said the communist party was using violence to control the IP communities.

He also revealed that Salugpungan schools were allegedly feeding students false information.

"Pinapaputukan ng mga NPA 'yung mga magulang namin, na hindi sumasang-ayon sa kanila na hindi sumusunod sa utos ((NPA members are shooting the parents who refused to follow their orders)," the former Salugpungan student said.

"At 'yung pambansang bayani namin, ngayon ko lang alam na si Dr. Jose Rizal pala ang pambansang bayani natin. Ang pambansang bayani namin doon, si Fr. Fausto Tentorio. Isa po itong pari," he added.

(And I learned that the country's national hero is Dr. Jose Rizal. In our school, our national hero is Fr. Faustino Tenorio. He's a priest.)

Datu Awing Apuga, a former child warrior of the NPA, noted that his father, Datu Guibang Apuga, who was the chair of Salugpungan school in Talaingod, sought the abolition of the education facility after realizing that it would do no good for the IP members.

Apuga also believed that the CPP was just using the indigenous communities to its advantage.

"Parang inaapak-apakan kami. Inaano lang kami, nilalaruan (They are underestimating us. They think of us as an object)," he said. "Ang tatay ko, siya ang chairman, siya ang nangunguna na ipasira ang Salugpungan schools (My father, as chairperson of Salugpungan schools, was the one who initiated to demolish the learning centers)." (SunStar Philippines)


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