Probe sought on harassment of Lumad teachers, students

A PARTY-LIST representative has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the alleged harassment of Lumad (indigenous peoples) students and teachers during their 13-day campout on the sidewalk outside the Department of Education (DepEd) office in Pasig City.

In House Resolution No. 1495 filed on Wednesday, November 29, Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago claimed that the alleged acts of harassment and intimidation against Lumad chidren were perpetrated by "state agents."

An estimated 100 Lumad students and teachers started camping outside the DepEd office on November 16 to call for the recognition of all Lumad schools in Mindanao and condemn the military attacks against Lumads.

The resolution quoted Save Our Schools Network, the group that organized the campout, which said a "heavily-disguised" man on a motorcycle, believed to be a state agent, took photos and videos of the children on November 27.

On November 28, suspected members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) went together with the DepEd's head security inside the camp.

"The intensive surveillance conducted by state agents is a harassment of the Lumad students and teachers, who have been forced to evacuate from their schools and communities in Mindanao because of militarization," the resolution read.

"Now, therefore be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, that the House committee on human rights conduct an immediate investigation, in aid of legislation on the harassment and the intimidation of Lumads who camped outside DepEd," it added.

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones did not conduct a dialogue with the Lumad teachers and students during the campout, despite repeated demands.

Instead, she held a press conference condemning the militarization on Lumad schools. She also announced the signing of the newly signed department order that supersedes DepEd's previous order allowing military presence in Lumad schools.

Despite this, Kabataan claims that the Mindanaoans who have returned to their communities had been forced anew to evacuate due to the arrival of additional military troops, following the President's cancellation of the peace talks, and his branding of the communist rebels as "terrorists." (SunStar Philippines)
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