LUMAD SCHOOLS TELL DU30: WE’RE NOT REDS

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - REGIONS - —NICOALCONABA INQ

DAVAO CITY— If the mil­i­tary bombs “lumad” schools to heed one of Pres­i­dent Duterte’s rants against com­mu­nist guer­ril­las, it would blow up not only struc­tures but also pho­tos of Mr. Duterte.

Just like any pub­lic school, class­rooms in lumad learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions have pho­tos of Philip­pine pres­i­dents, in­clud­ing Mr. Duterte’s.

The Pres­i­dent had threat­ened to or­der lumad schools bombed for al­legedly teach­ing com­mu­nist ideas.

But Armed Forces spokesper­son Brig. Gen. Resti­tuto Padilla said the mil­i­tary did not in­tend to bomb lumad schools and that the Pres­i­dent’s state­ment was just a strong ap­peal for com­mu­nist rebels to stop us­ing lumad schools to brain­wash chil­dren.

Mr. Duterte, when asked to clar­ify his state­ment, said he wanted only to “free the chil­dren from perdi­tion.”

“I didn’t say I’d kill the chil­dren. Far from it, ac­tu­ally,” he said.

“You com­mu­nists are per­pet­u­at­ing the vi­o­lence in this coun­try and I have to stop it,” he said.

But Mala­cañang had iden­ti­fied the Al­ter­na­tive Learn­ing Cen­ter for Agri­cul­tural and Liveli­hood De­vel­op­ment (Al­cadev) in Lianga, Suri­gao del Sur, as among schools op­er­at­ing with­out a per­mit.

Al­cadev, a sec­ondary school that caters to lumad stu­dents, started op­er­at­ing in Sitio Hanayan in Barangay Di­atagon, Lianga town in 2004.

Bishop’s ini­tia­tive

Al­cadev ac­cepts chil­dren who have fin­ished ele­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion in tribal com­mu­nity schools run by the Tribal Fil- ipino Pro­gram of Suri­gao del Sur (TRIFPSS).

TRIFPSS has been op­er­at­ing com­mu­nity schools since 1987 through the ef­fort of for­mer Tandag Bishop Ire­neo Aman­tillo. There are a to­tal of 22 TRIFPSS schools in Suri­gao del Sur, in­clud­ing the one in Sitio Han-ayan.

TRIFPSS won the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s Na­tional Literacy Award in 2001 and 2005. Al­cadev, on the other hand, was a fi­nal­ist in the same con­test in 2014.

On Sept. 1, 2015, thou­sands of Manobo lumad from the towns of Lianga, Mar­i­hatag, San Agustin, San Miguel and Tago evac­u­ated to Tandag City in Suri­gao del Sur, af­ter mem­bers of a para­mil­i­tary group killed Emer­ito Sa­marca, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Al­cadev.

Aside from Sa­marca, the para­mil­i­tary group also killed lumad lead­ers Dionel Cam­pos and Datu Bello Sinzo.

The evac­uees re­turned to their homes only af­ter Mr. Duterte be­came Pres­i­dent.

“If the mil­i­tary bombs the lumad schools, part of its tar­get will be the Pres­i­dent’s pho­tos,” Michelle Cam­pos, daugh­ter of slain tribal leader Dionel Cam­pos, told the In­quirer.

Run af­ter killers

In­stead of bomb­ing the school, Cam­pos said Mr. Duterte should go af­ter those who killed her fa­ther.

The Pres­i­dent also ac­cused the lumad schools of teach­ing chil­dren how to fight the gov­ern­ment.

“We would beg to dif­fer, Mr. Pres­i­dent. Our school’s cur­ricu­lum is an open book and we would very much ap­pre­ci­ate it get­ting pop­u­lar­ized. You can have a bat­tal­ion of crit­ics look over our ed­u­ca­tional frame­work,” Al­cadev and TRIFPSS said in a state­ment.

Just like in or­di­nary pub­lic schools, stu­dents of TRIFPSS schools and Al­cadev have English, Filipino, Math, His­tory, Science and Val­ues Ed­u­ca­tion as ba­sic sub­jects.

Stu­dents in TRIFPSS schools and Al­cadev also have a sub­ject on agri­cul­ture, where they learn al­ter­na­tive farm­ing meth­ods.

“We try to give our chil­dren the nec­es­sary knowl­edge to de­velop crit­i­cal minds and en­able them to con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of so­ci­ety,” the state­ment said.

“We teach math to help them with their agri­cul­tural work, science that re­spon­si­bly uti­lizes the won­ders of na­ture and his­tory with a pro­gres­sive per­spec­tive, among other things,” it added.

Al­cadev and TRIFPSS said that in­stead of at­tack­ing lumad schools, the gov­ern­ment “should pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for our com­mu­ni­ties to get the sup­port we truly need dur­ing th­ese try­ing times.”

—NICOALCONABA

Stu­dents of Al­cadev and TRIFPSS at a flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony be­fore classes in an evac­u­a­tion cen­ter in Tandag City where they fled af­ter mili­tia men at­tacked “lumad” com­mu­ni­ties in Suri­gao del Sur.

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