Administrators running self-help private schools for indigenous people in the Davao Region lambasted a spokesman of the Department of Education (DepEd) for allegedly hinting that their schools are influenced by communist ideology.
Dodong Atillo, DepEd-Davao Region information officer, helped fan wild talks that the 25 schools of the Salugpungan ta TanuIgkanugon Community Learning Center (STTILC) were influenced by the New Peoples Army (NPA), said the administrators.
While Atillo said the schools failed to open in June for lack of permit from DepEd, he said our school have a “different agenda” hinting that we were teaching our students communism, said the administrators who begged anonymity for security reasons.
They said they heard Atillo saying the disparaging remark during an interview of him by a local radio station, lumads and their children protested a DepEd move not to reopen the schools that have been serving tribal children for years.
Atillo was interviewed by the radio station along with a military official when he hinted that we are teaching our students to be NPA rebels, they said.
The baseless and irresponsible statement of Atillo smacks of extreme bias against lumad children who are in most need of education, said the administrators of the schools organized by tribal communities with help from non-government organizations.
The STTILC schools were established in farflung tribal villages in the Davao Region where public schools are scarce. Most of the students of the schools, which offer elementary and high school classes, are from the indigenous people communities.
Earlier, school authorities and human rights groups said the closure of the schools was purposely instigated by the military in cahoots with DepEd who spread rumors about the school teaching students how to handle Armalites rather than learning the ABC.
LUMAD SCHOOLS RE-OPENED
THE Department of Education (DepEd) will issue permits for lumad schools in remote areas of the Davao Region which were earlier tagged in wild rumors as “rebel schools.”
The schools failed to open in time for the new school year at the start of June for lack of permit.
The schools had been hit by bad press over media accusation that they were teaching communist ideology as part of curriculum.
DepEd will renew the permits of the Salugpungan ta TanuIgkanugon Community Learning Center (STTILC), said Jenilito Atillo, DepEd-Davao information officer, in a media conference.
The news is a big victory for the schools for the lumads who staged pickets at the DepEd regional office in Davao City to have their schools opened.
Atillo said they received papers approving their application from the Department of Education Central Office Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPSEO) and that they will issue the permits as soon as possible for the 25 SSTIC schools.
This is what we were waiting for. We did not connive with anybody to brand or tag them as red schools. We did not say we closed them because they are schools of communists. The issue is that they did not renew their permit, Atillo said.
He said the schools were late in applying for renewal.
Now that we have received the documents, we are bending a little in our regulations, he said.
Atillo said DepEd Order No. 21 bars regional offices from issuing permits to late applicants.
We want the children out there to return to school. We want them to continue schooling, said Atillo.