By: Marites Toledo
THE relentless harassment of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the 31 volunteer teachers resulted to the closure of 18 Lumad alternative schools, according to a group that has been defending and promoting the children’s rights.
According to Kharlo Manano, secretary-general of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, said the harassment was done with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Manano said the DILG and DepEd officials in Sultan Kudarat have been sowing “harassment, threat and intimidation and vilification of the students and teachers of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat” through the assistance of the AFP and PNP.
Manano said anti-Lumad operation has stopped at least 1,003 students from attending alternative learning.
It effectively prevented the 31 volunteer teachers to teach the children.
He assailed the government’s continuing attack on the Lumad community despite the fact the present administration has put on hold the military and police operations in Mindanao, while exploratory talks for peace process between the government and the communist organization of Jose Ma. Sison to come up with combined framework on how to realize lasting peace in the country.
“We are protesting the continuing attacks on Lumad community schools in Mindanao that are still being committed by the AFP in collusion with local officials of DepEd,” Manano said.
He emphasized that then DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro did not act on the Salinlahi demands until his last day in office.
Sanlahi is strongly hoping that DepEd Secretry Leonor Briones will make a decisive mode to end harassment and terrorism on Lumad schools, Manano said.
“Secretary Briones should step forward and take an immediate action on these continuing attacks. She should stand on the side of Lumad children and ensure that her erring subordinates be held accountable,” Manano said.
“Briones should, once and for all, scrap DepEd memorandum 221,” he added.