‘We are giving DepEd Sec. Luistro a 3-day ultimatum to make a favourable move on the cases of military attacks on lumad community schools in Mindanao by revoking DepEd Memo 221 which blatantly allows the elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to use schools in the course of military operations,’ said Kharlo Manano, SALINLAHI secretary general during the 3-day vigil of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao delegates and advocates commenced in front of Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office in Pasay City today.
SALINLAHI and Save Our Schools Network joined in by more than 100 lumad students, teachers and tribal leaders set up the kampuhan to express anger and condemnation over Sec. Luistro’s involvement and connivance with the AFP in perpetuating widespread terror against schools of indigenous peoples in Mindanao. The kampuhan will run until November 11 and around 300 lumad and support groups will arrive on November 10 and 11.
According to the Save Our Schools Network, the cases of military encampment and attacks have intensifed despite the previous dialogue with the education secretary, demanding him to take concrete action on the issue.
The group held the DepEd and the members of the Inter-agency Committee on Children in Armed Conflict (IAC-CIAC) responsible upon the issuance of said memo. AIC-CIAC is being headed by Committee for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and composed of other government agencies including Department of National Defense, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Justice, etc.
‘You [Sec. Luistro] promised to resolve this issue by bringing our concern to the interagency body, but until now, we have been counting military atrocities in schools. This only manifests your lack of willingness to help lumad community schools and unmasks that DepEd and other government agencies are machineries of Oplan Bayanihan,’ said Manano.
‘Our schools have been targeted for closure, encampment, vilification, and harassments by the military. Since April, lumad children have been holding classes in evacuation centers after their schools were closed down and after soldiers have encamped their communities,’ said Jomorito Guaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan ng Mindanano.
According to Save Our Schools Network spokesperson Reina Requioma, aside from protest action and noise barrage, they will also set up a ‘mobile classroom’ so the lumad children can continue their study inside the kampuhan. Different groups and personalities are expected to join and support the kampuhan. ####