DAVAO DEL SUR – Department of Education officials on Tuesday denied allegations made by militant groups over the closure issue of private schools catering to Lumad minorities in the Davao Region.
According to reports, three campuses of private school Salugopungan Ta Tanu Igkanunon were ordered to shut down their operations by local education authorities in the area.
This was after reports made by the military and the local municipal tribal council in Talaingo town,
Davao Del Norte that the schools were being used as fronts for extremist group New People’s Army (NPA).
DepEd Region XI Information Officer Jenilito Atillo said the reason for the recommendation made by the Division of City Schools – Davao del Norte was the schools’ failure to process/renew their annual permit to operate.
In an interview with The Standard, Davao del Norte Division Superintendent Josephine Fadul made it clear that the recommendations in her letter to Regional Director lawyer Alberto Escobarte were just made “to keep the spirit of the stand made by the tribal council and other stakeholders against the alleged use of these schools as ‘fronts’ of the NPA.”
Fadul also explained that they were just trying to suggest possible options that they make take to solve the vacuum of their non-presence in the area.
Militant groups lamented Fadul’s recommendation in her communication that para-military elements be employed in areas to be left by the Salugopungan. She later clarified that these were just one of the inputs presented in consultations made by the DepEd together with the municipal tribal council, the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders in the area.
Atillo also added that other options can also be done, such as multi-grade instruction, combination classes, and creating extension classes from the nearest public school in the area.
“It is not necessary that we employ paramilitary solutions. We have many options, most viable of which are extension classes,” Atillo added.