DepEd Sec. Luistro powerless in protecting schools from military attacks

“Subukan kong iparating ang usapin pero hindi ko alam kung papakinggan ako”. This was the statement of Sec. Luistro when Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Emmi de Jesus asked him to talk to Pres. Aquino on immediately pulling out military troops in lumad schools and communities, during the dialogue held earlier today.

The dialogue came after the group together with more than 50 lumad students and teachers from Mindanao staged a vigil protest in front of DepEd Central Office yesterday to urge Sec. Luistro to seriously act on the issue of military encampment on lumad community schools.

However, Save our schools (SOS) Network expressed dismay over the unfavorable result of the dialogue as Sec. Luistro failed to heed the group’s demands, especially the revocation of DepEd Memo 221, s. 2013 which permits conduct of military activities inside schools. “We are frustrated with the outcome. Sec. Luistro has only validated his incapability and reluctance in ensuring the protection of schools, students and teachers, especially lumad community schools, from military attacks,” said Save Our Schools Network Spokesperson Madella Santiago.

In the dialogue, Sec. Luistro said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is the agency that should address the issue of military encampment and not the DepEd. However, the group stands firm that Sec. Luistro must immediately do something on the issue since cases of encampment severely affect students and teachers, as well as the schools’ operations, wherein the agency has jurisdiction.

Sec. Luistro only promised to bring the urgent cases to the inter-agency task force headed by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) for investigation. “As head of the education department, we expected from him his commitment to act on his own capacity and not to pass the resolution of the problem to other government agencies,” Santiago added.

The group also reiterated their demand to revoke the Department Memorandum 221 that further permits these cases. “Sec. Luistro’s refusal to revoke the memo is tantamount to the DepEd’s abandonment of its responsibility in ensuring children’s protection from violence under the fold of its jurisdiction,” Santiago ended. ###

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