By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The 1,100 lumad students, who will be affected by the suspension order issued last Friday against the 55 schools operated by the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc., will be accommodated by the public schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) in Davao Region assured on Monday.
DepEd-Davao spokesperson Jenielito Atillo told a press conference that the agency has directed the Salugpongan to facilitate the transfer of their students from their campuses in different provinces here to the nearest public schools, which are directed to accommodate the affected lumad learners.
The government-run academic institutions would accept the lumad students even if they could not present their credentials, according to him.
“We will also be doing everything that we can do just to make sure that all of these children will be accepted. We will accept them even without credentials. Basta mo-ingon sila nga gikan koana nga schools (For as long they say they come from those schools, no question asked, we will accept them),” Atillo said.
He said a total of 144 schools in different lumad communities had been established as of July 15, 2019, which catered to a total of 9,111 students. Of the total, 32 schools were established in Davao Oriental, 8 in Comspotela Valley, 43 Davao Del Norte, 20 in Davao Occidental, and 41 Davao City.
Atillo said the DepEd-Davao would welcome the teachers from the Salugpongan to apply as public school teachers, but added they would be subject to the regular application process.
“We will be very willing to cater to them as applicants kay dili man pud pwede i-shortcut kay diha sila gikan og naapektuhan sila gumikan sa maong suspension og atoa balion ang policy, dili pud na pwede (we cannot shorten the application in their favor. We cannot change the policy just because they are affected. It cannot be),” he said.
DepEd-Davao regional director Evelyn R. Fetalvero said in her July 10 order that the Salugpongan schools had been suspended for failing to teach their pupils in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the DepEd, using the children in rallies, and teaching the pupils ideologies that advocate taking arms against the government.
Fetalvero was acting on the report submitted by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, also the vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which was accompanied by an affidavit from a certain Melvin M. Loyod, who claimed to have volunteered as a teacher at Salugpongan in Sitio Pongpong, Barangay Sto. Niño, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte after graduating Grade 12.
All pending applications for renewal of the government permits of the Salugpongan are likewise suspended, according to Atillo.
He said Salugpongan had been ordered to submit a “show cause” within five days upon receipt of the order or until July 17, explaining why their permit to operate should not be revoked.
On Sunday, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network expressed alarm over the suspension of the 55 Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. on a basis of a military report.
The group said it was appalled by how DepEd had “reduced itself as a stamp-pad for the military who have targeted the closure of Lumad schools in Mindanao” by failing to failed to protect and uphold the children’s right to education
It added the SOS criticized Education Secretary Leonor Briones for not accepting their invitation to hold a dialogue with the school representatives to know the plight of the lumad.