Lumad and Supporters Hound Sec. Briones at Makati forum, Chained and Locked the Gates of DepEd

SOS during Rappler's forum

Lumad students, teachers and supporters under the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network expressed their dismay as Sec. Briones, whom they branded as “Liling Sinungaling” deliver her speech on “Teaching the Truth” during a Truth, Trust and Democracy forum.

SOS Mindanao spokesperson, Rius Valle cited an example where Sec. Briones blatantly lied to save herself from the humiliation of criminally neglecting the Lumad children to education, “Sec. Briones said in her recent interview that Obello Bay-ao, slain Lumad pupil was not killed by state forces during her term. Obello was shot dead on Sept. 5, 2017, just past a month after Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools while Briones took her office last year, June 2016. Is it just a mistake or a lie, if it’s just a mistake, then she still lied when she said that they know the situation of Lumad children and that they are working hard to for its betterment.”

Valle also belied the previous statement of Sec. Briones that the Department of Education has been working ever since to grant permit for all pending applications from Lumad schools, “Based on the data that we have collected, there are still 15 Lumad schools with pending permit application that DepEd Regional offices have consistently snubbed for an average of one to four years”.

“We can also consider it a lie when Briones said that they are doing their job to protect the rights of Lumad children to education. Sec. Briones continued the implementation of DepEd Memo 221 series of 2013 despite its provisions which allow state forces to use Lumad schools during military operations, thus the intensified human rights violations against Lumad children, which in effect, hindered their studies” said Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns Secretary-General and SOS Network National lead convener.

WATCH: Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones met with protest in a forum

Meanwhile, Lumad students and supporters chained and locked the gates of DepEd-Main office in Pasig City. “Lumad students, teachers and leaders declare DepEd led by Sec. Briones in collusion with the AFP on closing down and attacking lumad schools and communities. It is an enemy of lumad children and teacher! Hence it deserves a closure order from lumad people,” said Relita Malundras, SOS national network spokesperson.

Lumad children ended their 13-day camp out in front of DepEd Main office as Sec. Briones mercilessly showed no intent of talking to them. Lumad students plan to advance the struggle to save Lumad schools and communities in Mindanao amid intensified military attacks.

WATCH: Lumad students, teachers and parents locked the gate of DepEd central office

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Group sets children’s day for DepEd to Act on attacks vs. Lumad Schools

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Save Our Schools network, an alliance of academicians, child rights advocates, lumad students, volunteer teachers and other supporters of lumad schools stormed DepEd National Office, demanding Secretary Briones to act and not be complacent on the continuing cases of military attacks against lumad community schools in Mindanao.

“Sec. Briones has repeatedly ignored our call to rescind DepEd Memo 221, a memorandum issued last 2013 allowing the AFP to use schools in military operations, paving the way to various forms of human rights violations such as killings of students and teachers and forcible evacuation,” said Relita Malundras, spokesperson of Save Our Schools Network – National.

SOS Network sets November 20, 2017, Universal Children’s Day, as deadline for Sec. Briones to scrap DepEd Memo 221 and condemn the continuing violations against Lumad students, teachers and community members.

“Sec. Briones should be ashamed of herself for being inutile for the past 16 months in her office while the AFP continues to violate Lumad children’s right to education. This coming Universal Children’s day is the perfect time for her to act and stand beside the Lumad children and uphold their basic right to education.” Malundras added.

According to SOS Network – Southern Mindanao Region spokesperson Rius Valle, “More than 100 Lumad students are still in Bakwit school in UP Diliman as militarization reigns in their ancestral lands. Just this Sept. 5, 2017, a grade six Lumad student, Obello Bay-ao was shot to death by CAGFU and AFP-trained paramilitary group Alamara only 50 meters away from their school,”

“Under the Duterte administration, 39 lumad schools were forcibly closed down by state forces. Attacks against Lumad schools also intensified after the declaration of Martial law in Mindanao and Duterte’s threat to bomb community schools” Valle added.

“Sec. Briones’ DepEd Memo 221 brings more encouragement to fascist state forces to violate Lumad student’s right to education and life. Moreover, it provides blanket protection to state forces as they attack lumad schools and their communities. Why is Sec. Briones so afraid to scrap the memo? Is there any conspiracy between AFP and DepEd to forcibly close community schools?” Valle asked.

Malundras also added that the Department of Education should recognize the more than 200 schools established by Lumads themselves which provide nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education as the government remains to be inutile in remote areas.

Malundras also encouraged child rights advocates, academicians, religious groups and other supporters of Lumad schools to intensify the call to protect and save Lumad schools as the international children’s day approaches.

“This year’s international Children’s day, let us fearlessly fight for the greatest gift that we could give to Lumad students, their right to education” Malundras ended. ###