MANILA – Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro has finally faced the Lumad children and their teachers in a dialogue on Dec. 2, but only to disappoint them.
Madella Santiago, spokeswoman of SOS Network, said Sec. Luistro has failed to heed their group’s demand especially the revocation of DepEd Memorandum Order 221.
The Save Our Schools Network has been demanding the pull out of military troops in the Lumad schools and communities.
Luistro told Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Emmi De Jesus that he will try to tell President Benigno S. Aquino III about the issue but he cannot assure if the message will be heeded.
“While we took a step forward in compelling Secretary Luistro to face the children, teachers and advocates of the Save Our Schools Network, and have him listen in person to our demands, we meet his words with frustration as all he gave us were bureaucratic responses such as requiring submission of new documents and undertaking an investigation on the matter,” said De Jesus.
In the dialogue, the Education Secretary said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is the agency that should address the issue of military encampment and not the DepEd.
However, Santiago said they stand firm that Sec. Luistro must immediately do something on the issue since cases of encampment severely affect students and teachers, as well as the schools’ operations, over which the agency has jurisdiction.
Santiago said Sec. Luistro only promised to bring the urgent cases to the inter-agency task force headed by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) for investigation.
“As head of the education department, we expected from him his commitment to act on his own capacity and not to pass the resolution of the problem to other government agencies,” Santiago added.
Some 50 lumad children and their teachers held a vigil in front of the DepEd Central office in Pasig since the afternoon of Dec. 1. They also held their mobile class also in front of the DepEd office while waiting for Sec. Luistro to face them in the dialogue.
Text by Anne Marxze D. Umil
Photos courtesy of SOS Network