IP School in Sultan Kudarat red-tagged, teachers threatened with arrest
Please join us in condemning the ongoing repression and harassment of teachers and developers of indigenous learning systems in indigenous peoples’ community schools. CLANS Lumad School Diya Menuwa, a community school in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, has been targeted by municipal officers and local government agencies. Tarpaulins and flyers were distributed with messages maligning the school and its teachers, with blatant threats of arrest directed at the school’s educators. CLANS has provided education to Lumad children deprived of this basic right. Instead of persecution, initiatives to build schools within indigenous communities should be treated as a welcome effort.
ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT
CLANS Lumad School Diya Menuwa is a community school which caters to around 1,000 Dulang Manobo children in 18 school sites in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. The school was established this year and is run by the the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS).
On October 11, 2016, at around 11am, two armed men arrived in Sitio Buna, Brgy. Kipunget, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat to put up tarpaulins bearing the following message (as translated): ‘A small group known as CLANS is the first wave of deception in Palimbang. CLANS, along with schools operating under it in different areas in Palimbang, have no permit from the government. This school is not recognized by the Department of Education; it is fake and illigetimate. Everyone is encouraged to be vigilant against the school’s activities. Let us stand as one Philippine nation, let us not be deceived by the communist ideology.’ The said tarpaulin bears the logo of the municipality of Palimbang, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Philippine Marine Corps, and the Philippine National Police (PNP). The armed men who put up the posters came back an hour later and took pictures of the school’s premises.
On October 12, 2016, a caravan of municipal officers was held in different sitios in Palimbang, including Sitio Sindiolo in Brgy. Kisek, Sitio Kalupaan in Brgy. Ligao, Sitio Lipaga in Brgy. Medol, Sitio Site in Brgy. Wasag, and Sitios Kidupong and Badak in Brgy. Dumulol. Flyers with the same message were distributed in the said areas and a tarpaulin was put up in Brgy. Kipunget.
On October 13, 2016, around 7am, Daniel Asido, Brgy. Captain of Brgy. Dumulol, called for a leaders’ meeting supposedly for a project of KALAHI CIDDS. However, the agenda was far different from what the attendees expected. Before the meeting started, 20 elements of the 6th Marine Battalion Landing Team in full-battle gear arrived at the venue, followed by 10 policemen who are also armed. In the meeting, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Abubacar Maulana, told the attendees not to take part of the CLANS projects and programs because “it is part of New People’s Army’s (NPA) maneuvers to spread the communist ideology.”
Other local officials who attended the meeting included the DSWD Municipal Link, the DepEd District Supervisor, a representative from the DILG, Palimbang IP Mandatory Representative, Brgy. Captain of Brgy Mina, Palimbang Municipal Administrator, and the Principal of Mababang Paaralan ng Dumulol.
During the meeting, the DepEd supervisor complained that students from DepEd schools are losing students because of CLANS. This was explained when Judith Dakias, a student from Dumulol who transferred to CLANS, attested that going to his previous school required an hour of walking, along with the danger of crossing the highway. Dakias recently lost her brother to an accident on their way to school. She also added that it is expensive in Dumulol whereas attending CLANS is more practical. Despite this, however, officials kept urging leaders to encourage their constituents to pull-out students from CLANS.
The meeting concluded with an announcement from the municipal administrator of Palimbang, also the sister of the Mayor, that they would be giving a reward of PhP5,000 in exchange for the pictures of teachers and staff of CLANS. The administrator added that teachers will only be given three warnings to stop teaching; the fourth warning will lead to their arrest.
Due to these threats, CLANS Lumad School Diya Menuwa was forced to closed down for several days. Currently, there is no definite date for the resumption of classes. A resolution has already been filed at the House of Representatives by progressive lawmakers led by Alliance of Concerned Teachers Partylist representatives Antonio Tinio to investigate the incident.
The Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has recently finished the second round of the formal peace talks on October 9, 2016 under the Duterte administration. The first round of talks, from August 22-26, 2016, reaffirmed previously signed agreements such as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), among other commitments. Unilateral ceasefire declarations were also announced separately by both parties. In the second round of talks, the draft common outline of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) was initialed by the Reciprocal Working Committees of the GRP and NDFP on social and economic reforms.
Such agreements should work to prevent the red-tagging and attack of schools, its teachers and developers. The CASER, although still in the pipeline, should include protection of the right to education; the CARHRIHL, as a joint agreement, mandates the non-inclusion and safety of non-combatants, particularly prohibiting the use of schools and the attack against students and teachers. The GRP unilateral ceasefire declaration has been increasingly criticized as “empty and defective,” with the continuing combat military operations under Oplan Bayanihan, also in the guise of civil military operations, in civilian communities, resulting to political killlings, illegal arrests, threats and harassment. Under BS Aquino and its implementation of counter-insurgency programs, there were almost 80,000 victims of military encampment of schools, medical, religious and other public places.
The continuing red-tagging of schools is a blatant violation not only of the GRP’s own ceasefire declaration, of the CARHRIHL, and of the right to education, it also ultimately casts doubts on the GRP’s capacity to fully implement agreements that it is party to.
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2. An end to the repression and harassment of teachers and developers of indigenous learning systems in indigenous peoples’ community schools;
3. The accountability of Sultan Kudarat Mayor Abubacar Malauna and the local offices of the NCIP, DepEd, DSWD, DILG, PNP Palimbang and the 6th Marine Battalion;
4. The Philippine Government to adhere to laws which encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems;
5. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians, and stop the attacks against schools and other learning institutions;
6. The Philippine Government to pursue its commitment to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the inclusion of the protection of the right to education in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER); and
7. The Philippine Government to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments that is a party and signatory.
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