Closure of Lumad schools part of Oplan Bayanihan

Karapatan hits Department of Education and Secretary Armin Luistro for being “a conduit of the military’s implementation of the government’s counterinsurgency Oplan Bayanihan.” 

SOS @DepEd

 “The way Sec. Luistro holds on the Department of Education’s Memorandum 221 of 2013 and his inaction on the plight of the Lumad children at risk with the military’s encampment in Lumad schools shows how he and his department is used by the military to justify their presence in the learning centers,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. 

Palabay also scored the possible closure of the schools established by the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) following the recommendation of the DepEd School Division Superintendent Dr. Josephine Fadul to Atty. Alberto Escobarte, director of DepEd Region XI. 

“Worse, Fadul requested the creation of a new public high school with the military as para-teachers citing an agreement made during a meeting with the Regional Intelligence Committee. If this is not counterinsurgency at the expense of children who only wanted to go to school, then what is this, Sec. Luistro?”

In December 2014, a delegation of students of the STTICLC and organizations with the Save our Schools (SOS) Network held a protest action at the DepEd and a dialogue with Luistro to call for the revocation of Memo 221.  “Memo 221 is DepEd’s version of the AFP’s directive#25. Both legitimize the use of schools/educational institutions for military purposes. DepEd’s version uses ‘civil-military operations’ as cover. But CMO operations are just a part of the AFP combat operations,” said Palabay. 

In the next six months following the dialogue, several cases of harassments and other rights abuses by the military were noted in the STTICLC learning centers. 

Karapatan reiterated that the schools are people-initiated and NGO-supported to serve the Lumad children in Talaingod, and in many parts of the country, because the government failed to provide for their education. “It is incomprehensible why the BS Aquino government wants these schools in Lumad communities closed despite the lack of schools and classrooms and its incapacity to serve even the students in urban areas,” added Palabay. 

“What is appalling, and frightening at the same time, is the kind of education the combined forces of DepEd and the military will provide our children—a militarist and pro-imperialist mindset, the kind that turns our children into robots who fight their own people. We definitely will not allow this to happen,” ended Palabay.