DepEd formally shuts down 55 Lumad schools in Davao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines –  The Department of Education in Davao region has officially ordered the closure of all 55 Lumad schools operated by the Salugpongan Ta'Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Incorporated (STTICLCI).

The Lumad schools had been the target of a military vilification campaign, saying these were being used as training centers for New People's Army rebels in the region.

Jenelieto Atillo, DepEd-11 spokesperson, said the closure was ordered following the investigation conducted by a 5-man fact-finding committee created by DepEd-11 in August. 

Atillo said the decision was not solely based on STTICLCI's alleged links with the NPA, but mainly on findings that it has committed violations of regulations and non-compliance with DepEd requirements.

Atillo said the 30-page document submitted by the fact-finding committee to DepEd-11 Director Evelyn Fetalvero contained "substantial evidence" against STTICLC, including non-compliance with the curriculum standards set by DepEd and that teachers of the school were not licensed teachers, among others.

Atillo said STTICLCI's closure would not affect its learners as there are least 33 DepEd-run schools adjacent to Salugpongan schools in various parts of the region.

He said the reality was that more than 1,000 Salugpongan learners had already enrolled in various public schools since the DepEd suspended the operation of the Lumad schools in July. 

Atillo said STTICLCI may still submit an appeal to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, but on the level of DepEd 11, the Salugpongan schools should no longer operate.

Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat condemned the decision, saying it violated the right of Lumad children to education.

"This is a clear injustice faced by the 3,500 students and more than 30 teachers of the schools,” she said.

Cullamat said it appeared that the government and the military wanted the Lumad to remain unschooled and remain ignorant amid the intrusion of business interests into their ancestral domain. – Rappler.com