In Sultan Kudarat, the town mayor, the police and some local govt agencies are bringing the military’s counter-insurgency operations to IP schools, forcing out of school over a thousand Dulangan Manobo students.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — The Makabayan bloc condemned the renewed attacks on the IP schools in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.
Palimbang Mayor Abubacar “Bakre” Maulana’s threats and harassment by the police and other government agencies have resulted in the closure of at least 18 schools of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS). Based on the Save Our Schools Network report, on October 11, about 10 armed police in civilian clothes and one platoon of Philippine marines started posting tarpaulins that labeled CLANS as “the entry point of deception of the New Peoples’ Army.” The tarpaulins also showed allegations that the schools are “fake and illegitimate.”
The tarpaulin bears the logos of the Palimbang municipal government, the Departments of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior of Local Government (DILG), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Philippine Marines and the Philippine National Police.
Aside from posting such tarpaulins, the police also forcibly entered the school of CLANS and took photos of the school and the volunteer teachers, the SOS report said.
The following day Oct. 12, officials of the barangay Kipunget gathered the residents and vilified the CLANS. Some municipal officials also held a “caravan” and distributed flyers claiming similar allegations as printed in their tarpaulins.
SOS took note of resident’ reports that Palimbang Mayor Maulana had asked them to bring pictures of CLANS teachers to the municipal administrator in exchange for P5,000 reward ($102). The mayor was also heard issuing threats of jailing the CLANS teachers if they were caught teaching in CLANS school after three warnings.
Palimbang Mayor Maulana is currently in his third term as mayor. He and some fellow officials have been slapped with multi-million plunder and corruption cases. In 2011 and 2015, other officials of the Sangguniang Bayan of Palimbang have filed complaints about the mayor to the Office of the Ombudsman.
This time, it is the Makabayan bloc of lawmakers who are also intent on having the mayor’s actions investigated. They filed House Resolution 545 on Monday, Nov. 14, calling for a congressional inquiry into the incident. These community schools are the nearest schools the Lumad children can attend to get educated, said ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio. He said these schools are “also strong testaments to the struggle of indigenous communities for self-determination.”
“We, therefore, cannot let this repression of educators and developers of IP communities continue. We will not allow this to go unnoticed, or allow those responsible for committing these human rights violations with impunity,” said ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro.
CLANS is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SOS said. CLANS also has a 10-year track record of serving IP communities in Central Mindanao and Davao regions. Aside from managing one formal school, CLANS is also managing 50 non-formal community-based IP schools under the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System, the group SOS said.
Disadvantaged by the school closure are at least a thousand Dulangan Manobo students, children, and adults.
Military’s Oplan Bayanihan behind the attack on schools
Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi secretary general, also condemned the attack on IP schools. He urged President Rodrigo Duterte “to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to scrap the US-guided counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan and end all military operations in civilian communities as it terrorizes children and hampers their right to education.”
The SOS spokesperson Reina Requioma also urged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to revoke the DepEd Memorandum Order 221 of 2013 permitting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct operations inside schools.
The Assert Socio-Economic Initiatives Network in the Philippines (ASCENT), in another statement, denounced the incident saying that harassment against students and teachers hinders the Dulangan Manobo from enjoying the services provided by CLANS. The group said, “These actions are attacks on their right to self-determination and violation of the development workers human rights.”