CPP: Closure of ‘lumad’ schools may encourage IPs to join Reds

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines  – Shutting down schools that cater to the “lumad” or indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao would have an effect on the decades-old guerrilla war being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA) as Indigenous Peoples (IP) affected by the school closures could make them decide to join the rebel movement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

Contrary to the aim of the military, “the order to close the community schools will only succeed in further inciting the “lumad” people to join the people’s resistance against the tyrannical and fascist Duterte government,” the CPP said in statement on Friday, July 19.

It said the shuttering of IP schools would add to the government’s already anti-“lumad” policies, such as the military occupation of communities, taking over of ancestral lands to pave the way for mining operations and expansion of plantations, and incessant red-tagging of IP organizations.

“By ordering the closure of these community schools, the Duterte regime is teaching the lumad people and youth by negative example why the armed struggle is just and why joining the NPA is necessary in their quest for democracy and social justice,” the CPP added.

The order was carried out by the Department of Education (DepEd) upon the recommendation of National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., vice chair of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Esperon’s recommendation was based on his report alleging that the schools have deviated from DepEd’s guidelines and taught their students supposed anti-government propaganda.

In the Davao region, at least 55 schools ran by the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc. are likely to be closed, after Education Secretary Leonor Briones ordered the suspension of their operation.

The DepEd has given Salugpongan until Monday, July 22, to submit its reply that would justify why its schools should not be closed.

The planned closure of “lumad” schools has been condemned by progressive groups.

The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) said the DepEd has “reached an all-time low for allowing itself to be a tool for the fascist machinations of the Duterte administration and is consequently denying Lumad children their innate right and access to basic education.”

For its part,  human rights watchdog Karapatan said: “We encourage everyone to look at the curriculum and the practice of these schools, that they may see an advanced and apt curriculum design that puts the needs of the community at the core of the indigenous children’s’ education.” /muf

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