The Save our Schools Network said Education Secretary Bro.Armin Luistro has become instrumental in the perpetration of attacks on schools all over Mindanao.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Some 200 Lumad children, teachers and community leaders from Mindanao, together with child rights groups, set up camp in front of the Department of Education (DepEd) central office in Pasig City from Nov. 9 to 11 to express their disgust over Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro’s inaction over their longtime call to junk DepEd Memorandum Order No. 221.
However, in their three days of camp, Luistro did not come out. A DepEd staff once went and talked to the protesters. They were even told by the police that they would be dispersed.
As they end their camp-out on Wednesday, Nov. 11,the Save our Schools (SOS) network expressed their intent to file an administrative case against Luistro.
The group said that from the creation of the DepEd memo 221 to the closure of different schools the, DepEd has actively participated in the militarization of schools and communities, at the cost of children’s right to education.
“It has been three years since the network first called the attention of Secretary Luistro regarding cases of child rights violations and attacks on schools,” said Rius Valle, spokesperson of SOS.
“Several dialogues were set from 2012 to this year during which the Secretary himself vowed to investigate and act on cases brought to his attention by the network and Lumad children. However, the number of cases of attacks on schools is still on the rise and the forms of these attacks continue to intensify,” said Valle.
Under President Aquino’s administration, SOS documented some 400 cases of attacks on both Lumad and government-run schools in Mindanao.
Valle said the continuing implementation of DepEd Memo 221, allowing military presence in educational institutions further subjects Lumad schools to intensified attacks. He said Aquino’s direct involvement in these attacks was made clear with the decision to close down 25 IP schools last May 2015.
“This decision was made during a coordination meeting between the National Intelligence Board – Regional Intelligence Committee and the Department of Education last April 28 effectively showing the DepEd’s role as one of the key machineries being used in implementing Aquino’s counterinsurgency program – Oplan Bayanihan,” Valle said.
For the SOS, instead of acting on their calls, Luistro has become instrumental in the perpetration of attacks on schools all over Mindanao.
“Despite years of dialogue with the Save Our Schools Network, Luistro’s actions effectively make him an apologist of the military’s atrocities as he rejected demands of students to scrap the memorandum and hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Valle.
“Aquino’s bloody prints are all over the crime scene. From the closure and destruction of Lumad schools to continuing cases of militarization, Aquino’s ‘daang matuwid‘ spell-out displacement, human rights violations and plunder of lumad ancestral lands.”
Marvin Hugsalan, 14, a grade six student of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines’ school in San Luis, Agusan del Sur said that if ever he had a chance to meet with Luistro he would tell him to go to their school and see for himself their condition.
“We only aspire to be educated and someday help our parents to uplift our lives,” he said in an interview with Bulatlat.com. Hugalsan is the eldest in a brood of six.