By Chito Chavez
Human rights group Karapatan has deplored the Department of Education (DepEd) for the shutdown of 55 Lumad schools in Mindanao.
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay chided the government for allegedly continuously showing its propensity for condemning people and communities on the basis of “lists” and unverified reports.
She claimed “this was true for the prescription petition which included hundreds of individuals and aliases who were not vetted by the Department of Justice, and were merely fed by the AFP, PNP, and NICA’’.
In lashing out the DepEd, Palabay said the closure of the 55 Lumad schools stemmed from “the same false, unverified and malicious reports’’.
Palabay based on reports noted the shutdown of the schools, operated and owned by the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers was based on the report of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
She added the closure order was contained in a letter dated July 12, 2019, and was signed by Evelyn Fetalvero, director-in-charge of DepEd Southern Mindanao.
Karapatan has strongly condemned the DepEd’s shutdown of indigenous people’s schools in Mindanao simply based on unfounded claims.
Palabay insisted the accusations are recycled lies by militarist hawks who have derided schools that genuinely catered to members of indigenous communities by being pioneers in developing a curriculum that is truly appropriate and responsive to the needs of the community.
“We encourage everyone to look at the curriculum and the practice of these schools, that they may see an advanced and apt curriculum design that puts the needs of the community at the core of the indigenous children’s education,” she added.
Karapatan said it has been outraged by the government’s pronouncements and orders against its own people.
“Truly, martial law in Mindanao has made it easier to trample on the people’s right to education and block the indigenous communities’ efforts to build and sustain their own schools following years of government neglect,’’ Palabay said.
Palabay said the closure of the said schools leaves much to be desired citing they have adhered to the requirements set by the DepEd and “it is unacceptable that they ordered the closure of the educational institutions based on unverified claims’’.
“With their lack of interest to even verify the reports, they showed us how inutile they are in promoting everyone’s right to education,” Palabay concluded.