Makabayan Bloc lawmakers at the House of Representatives condemned the Department of Education's (DepEd) suspension of 55 Lumad schools in Davao Region, operated and owned by the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center.
In a statement, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Eufemia Cullamat, a Lumad Manobo leader herself, said the DepEd's act to suspend the 55 Lumad schools' permit to operate is unjust and a violation to the right to education of the Lumad youth.
"Sa ginawa nilang ito ay ipinakita ng DepEd na ipinagkakait nila ang karapatan ng mga Lumad na magbasa, magsulat at matuto. Gusto ng DepEd na hindi mamulat sa tunay na katotohanan ang mga Lumad para patuloy lang silang lokohin, apihin at tanggalan ng karapatan para madali lang nila agawin ang lupang ninuno na siyang buhay ng mga katutubong Lumad," Cullamat said.
"Sa halip na gipitin at ipagkait ng DepEd ang edukasyon ng mga Lumad ay dapat pa nga nilang kilalanin at tulungan ang pagpupursigi ng mga katutubo," she added.
According to Cullamat, it was Davao City DepEd officer-in-charge Evelyn Fetalvero and Education Secretary Leonor Briones who issued the suspension of the schools.
Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago said the temporary closure was carried out following the "unfounded" claims of an anti-insurgency task force led by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
"When did military personnel become evaluators of school performance? Why are they deciding for matters where school children are involved? Under the Duterte military junta, it seems that the military is taking over every role, including school administration," Elago said.
"Why is DepEd cracking down on schools and joining the red-tagging party instead of addressing the Lumad's perennial struggle?" she added.
ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro finds it "appalling" that the DepEd immediately issued a closure order on the schools based only on "false report" made by the military.
According to her, the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center has always complied with the necessary requirements in the guidelines for schools for indigenous peoples and are in constant communication with the DepEd office in the region regarding the release of their permit to operate.
"The order to close these schools is denying the Lumad people the right to education. The Duterte administration also continues to impose policies that endanger the lives of Lumad communities especially their children," Castro said.
"We call on the Department of Education to revoke the order to close the 55 Lumad schools. We challenge Secretary Briones and the regional officer-in-charge to integrate with the Lumad and see the situation that they have to face everyday, instead of basing an order on false reports by the military," she added. —KG, GMA News