“We have already lost a teacher and many Lumad leaders; we will not wait until we lose another one.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Save our Schools (SOS) Network, together with the Lumad community leaders, students and teachers from Manilakbayan 2015, filed administrative charges against Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro at the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday, Nov. 23.
Luistro was charged with “Gross Misconduct, Grave Abuse of Authority, Gross Oppression and for Conduct Unbecoming of a Public Officer.”
SOS Network-Mindanao spokesperson Rius Valle said Luistro violated several laws that protect children when he issued the Department of Education (DepEd) Memorandum Order 221, which continues to be implemented despite calls for its revocation.
The complainants said Luistro violated Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. They said he also violated Article 13 of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Article 28, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Early this month, some 200 Lumad students and teachers and other support groups camped out for three days in front of the DepEd National Office in Pasig City from Nov. 9 to 11, and called on Luistro to act on the attacks against their schools.
Valle said under the administration of President Aquino, the SOS network has documented 400 reported cases of attacks on both Lumad and government-run schools in Mindanao.
He said military aggression in schools, in the form of military encampment, threats, red-tagging of teachers and students, and destruction of school property, had intensified and rose in number after the issuance of the DepEd Memo 221.
The DepEd Memo or “Guidelines on the Protection of Children during Armed Conflict” was issued in 2013. It allows the military to conduct activities in schools. The SOS said it legitimizes military presence in schools.
“We gave him two years to revoke the memo. We lobbied and held dialogues with his department multiple times before we gave him a three-day ultimatum. This administrative case is long overdue, we demand full accountability of Education Secretary Luistro for his transgressions and neglect thereof,” said Valle.
Valle reiterated that Luistro not only ignored the calls to revoke DepEd Memo 221, he, too, became instrumental in the perpetration of military attacks on schools all over Mindanao.
“We have already lost a teacher and many Lumad leaders; we will not wait until we lose another one. We resolve to continue defending Lumad schools and dedicate our efforts to ensure that Aquino and Luistro be held accountable for these attacks against our schools and our people” Valle said.