Davao City―The Department of Education-Region 11 said Monday it did not issue a closure order against the 55 Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon or Salugpongan tribal schools whose permits to operate were suspended by the agency on July 12.
DepEd-11 spokesman Jenielito Atillo told reporters the suspensions did not amount to a stoppage or total closure as claimed by the Save our School Network, where the Salungpungan school system is a member.
“It is not true that we are closing the schools. It is just a suspension order and we are giving five days for them to present their answer on the allegations thrown against them, Atillo said, referring to the “show-cause” order on Salugpungan executive director Maria Eugenia Nolasco to provide a written explanation on the allegations of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
Meanwhile, the Education department said Monday the suspension of 55 lumad schools in Davao will not result in the displacement of learners.
“There will be no displacement of learners as all nearby public schools and those to be established in the coming days are ready to accept transferees even without transfer credentials,” department spokesman Annalyn Sevilla told GMA News Online in a text message.
Esperon, who also heads the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, claimed that the Salugpungan tribal school system promotes the New People’s Army’s communist ideology that espouses the violent overthrow of the government, trains its students to hold mass actions against the government, and uses curricula not in accordance with the department’s guidelines.
On Sunday night, SOS Network posted in its Facebook page that the Education department had issued a “closure” order against the Salugpungan schools.
SOS said the department’s action, and Esperon’s allegations put the security of all Salugpungan students and teachers at risk.
“It is appalling that an institution that is supposed to protect and uphold the children’s right to education has reduced itself into a stamp-pad for the military who have targeted the closure of Lumad schools in Mindanao, SOS said.
However, Atillo made it clear that the department’s suspension order only pertained to the permit to operate that all private schools in the region were required to obtain every year.
Nevertheless, Atillo said Salugpungan learners were always welcome to the schools run by the department. He said they were assisting the transfer of students to government-run public schools with or without credentials.
Even Salugpungan teachers, he said, were welcome to apply for vacant positions in the department.
Atillo also slammed SOS’ statement describing the department as a stamping pad of Esperon, saying the agency was only acting based on its mandate to protect the students.
“Everything here is in accordance with our mandate and policies. They [SOS] are peddling wrong information to touch human emotions. If we are the stamping pad, we will automatically close it and will not give due process to them,” Atillo said.