MILITANT groups advocating the welfare of indigenous people prodded Education Secretary Armin Luistro to address the alleged military attacks on lumad community schools in Mindanao.
Members of the Salinlahi alliance for children’s concerns and Save Our Schools Network, along with more than 100 lumad students, teachers and tribal leaders held a vigil in front of the Department of Education building in Pasig City to condemn the Education department’s alleged connivance with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The vigil will run until Wednesday.
“We are giving DepEd Secretary Luistro a three-day ultimatum to make a favorable move on the cases of military attacks on lumad community schools in Mindanao by revoking DepEd Memo 221 which blatantly allows the elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines to use schools in the course of military operations,” Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi secretary general, said.
According to the Save Our Schools Network, the cases of military encampment and attacks have intensified.
“You [Luistro] promised to resolve this issue by bringing our concern to the interagency body, but until now, we have been counting military atrocities in schools. This only manifests your lack of willingness to help lumad community schools and unmasks that DepEd and other government agencies are machineries of Oplan Bayanihan,” Manano said.
“Our schools have been targeted for closure, encampment, vilification, and harassments by the military. Since April, lumad children have been holding classes in evacuation centers after their schools were closed down and after soldiers have encamped their communities,” Jomorito Guaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan Mindanao, said.
The Manila Times tried to get DepEd’s statement on the issue, but Luistro refused to comment.
The Education department earlier said it does not allow military encampment inside school campuses.
In his dialogue with some Lumad representatives and members of the Save Our Schools Network, Luistro said the prohibition was contained under DepEd Memorandum Order 221 issued last year.