Educators demand immediate pullout of military from Lumad schools

Talaingod-schools

Lumad students have always faced disruption of classes every time military operations escalate in their communities

Members of the Education Forum for Development (EfD) called for the immediate pullout and disbanding of paramilitary and military groups occupying Lumad communities and disrupting classes in the schools.

The EfD expresses concern that Lumad students are not in school again. Classes have been disrupted at the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) in Surigao del Sur after military operations intensified in the communities around the Lumad schools.

On September 1, paramilitary groups Magahat-Bagani, together with the 36th and 75th Infantry Battalion, massed up in Sitio Han-ayan, Lianga and ordered the community to flee the area. The paramilitary killed ALCADEV executive director Emerito “Sir Emok” Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo.

Lumad students have always faced disruption of classes every time military operations escalate in their communities.

After the killings, the Magahat-Bagani forced some 2,000 residents including women and children to abandon their village and walk for hours. In between, they lectured the villagers about the benefits of mining and why they should not complain about mining companies in the area.

Classes at the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) also based in Lianga have also been disrupted by the forced evacuation.

Since their founding in 1998, the EfD have lauded both the ALCADEV and TRIFPSS, which were put up by Lumad communities in the absence of education facilities in Lianga. The two institutions provide secondary and elementary education and teach community development while reinforcing indigenous collective identity to the Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig and Mamanwa of the Surigao and Agusan provinces.

EfD said that contrary to military’s allegations that these are “rebel schools”, the ALCADEV and TRIFPSS are both internationally recognized and have been accredited by the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System. ALCADEV, in fact, won the National Literacy Award in 2001 and 2005, and was a finalist in 2014.

The educators’ group welcomed various orders to probe the killing of Lumad educators. They however stressed that pulling out the military troops and disbanding the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani group is the most urgent thing to do.

Military or any armed group’s occupation of school premises is against the law and violates the children’s right to education, said EfD. The group called on all education advocates to exert every effort to resist militarization and stop military and paramilitary encampment of villages so that the children can go back to their schools immediately. (end)

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