Lawmaker criticizes Davao lumad schools closure

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A party-list representative lambasted the Department of Education (DepEd) for ordering the closure of three Ata-Manobo schools and the takeover of the same schools by military personnel.

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Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list was referring to the letter-recommendation submitted by Davao del Norte Schools Division Superintendent Josephine Fadul to DepEd Region XI Director Alberto Escobarte dated May 12, 2015.

Fadul recommended the closure of three Salugopungan Ta Tanu Igkanunon schools, which cater to lumad children and that in its stead a school be constructed that will be managed by the military.

The division superintendent said the schools were being used as “fronts” of the rebel New People’s Army.

“Contrary to what Dr. Fadul claims, the tribal schools in Talaingod were built by missionaries and non-profit organizations to serve Lumad children. These educational institutions are in fact the only schools that strive to provide education in these far-flung areas, areas long neglected by both the local and national government. Closing these schools mean closing opportunities for these children,” Rep. Ridon said on Saturday.

The lawmaker also slammed Fadul for recommending the creation of public schools run by the military.

“This recommendation runs against several resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and national laws which discourage—if not prohibit—military entry in schools,” Ridon explained.

The militant youth lawmaker also expressed alarm over reports that another lumad school, in Kapulong, Davao del Norte, is being threatened by the paramilitary group Alamara, forcing the school not to open this coming school year.

“We denounce these systematic attacks against tribal schools that only aim to extend education to lumad children. How can the Aquino administration sleep at night knowing that children in these remote areas are being deprived of basic education because of heavy militarization?” Ridon asked.

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