Education Secretary Armin Luistro made this statement as he defended Indonesian school children who were studying in the public schools of Sarangani town, Balut Island, Davao del Sur province.
“These children should not be deprived of education,” Luistro said in an interview on Tuesday.
“Education applies to all regardless of a child’s race, religion, and nationality,” he added.
Luistro said school princi-pals have been requested to procure the birth certificate of the so-called “Indone- sian students.”
“Accept them even if they don’t have NSO [National Statistics Office] birth certificate,” he told school principals of Sarangani town.
Luistro said he believes these students are not pure Indonesians whose parents had been born on the island.
“Kung pure Indonesians na nagpunta dito para mag-aral iba yun. Pero marami sa kanila ang tatay at nanay ay Pilipino, sinasabi lang nila na Indonesians, pero paper-wise kahit walang birth certificate na pinanghahawakan pero dito naman sila pinanganak so Pilipino pa rin sila,” he said.
It can be noted that Indonesia is just three hours away by sea from Balut Island.
Editha Luares, school principal of Angel Olarte Sr. Elementary School, whose mother is Indonesian, said at least 450 students were enrolled.
“Five percent of the enrolees are Indonesians, 52 percent B’laans (tribe), 37 percent Sangil Muslims, and other tribes,” she said.