By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – A ranking official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) hailed Tuesday the Department of Education (DepEd) memorandum ordering the closure of 55 Salugpungan schools in the Davao Region.
“That’s the appropriate thing to do. It’s not about permits or compliance to requirements but the morality of maintaining it knowing that it is destroying our indigenous children,” Major General Antonio Parlade Jr., said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency.
Parlade also slammed the ranking officials of these so-called Salugpungan schools for not telling the public that many of the alternative learning centers are located near DepEd schools and that their real goal is not to educate these indigenous peoples (IPs) but to radicalize those unlucky enough to fall into their trap and ensure the continuous flow of foreign donations to their coffers.
“What the Executive Director (Maria Eugenia Nolasco) of Salugpungan is not saying is that many of their schools are very near DepEd schools. So why maintain an exclusive school for the IPs? Nuanced learning for the IPs or their hidden agenda of radicalization?” said Parlade, who is also Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff from Civil-Military Operations.
He added that the insistence of these groups to continue with their Salugpungan schools could be attributed to the fact that backers of these facilities are getting millions of Euros from donations abroad via their fake IP education advocacies.
For agencies planning to contest the DepED order against the Salugpungan schools, he urged them, especially the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to restudy their position rather than argue with the education department to review its memorandum.
“Would we rather have suspended education for (IP) children but safe from conflict or educated kids but dead or hurt in conflict after being radicalized? We all advocate for respect for human rights, so think about it CHR,” he said.
DepEd-11 announced on Tuesday the total closure of the 55 Salugpungan Tatanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (STICLCI) in the Davao Region.
The recommendation was based on the investigation of a five-man fact-finding committee created by DepEd-11 Director, Dr. Evelyn Fetalvero, which found substantial evidence of irregularities against the schools operated by the STICLC.
DepEd cited the following findings:
* Salugpungan does not comply with the curriculum standard set by DepEd;
* Salugpungan brought its students away from their home without the consent of their parents and used them to generate funds by making them perform the plight of the IPs, a violation of DepEd’s Child Protection Policy;
* Teachers of Salugpungan are not passers of Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET);
* Classes of the core learning areas are conducted by learning facilitators in violation of DepEd Order No. 21 Series of 2014;
* Salugpungan has been operating within the ancestral domain of the IP community without obtaining the mandatory free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of the concerned IP communities and the subsequent certification precondition from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP);
* Some students of Salugpungan do not have the learners’ reference number (LRN), a violation of the requirement of DepEd Order No. 26 Series of 2015; and
* Salugpungan has misrepresented its enrolled data, and that the data contained in the document submitted do not match with the data found in the learners’ information system.
Last July, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon accused the Salugpungan tribal school system of promoting the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) ideology espousing the violent overthrow of the government, training its students to conduct mass actions against the government and using a curriculum not in accordance with the DepEd guidelines.
Esperson, who NTF ELCAC vice-chairperson, said these allegations are backed by testimonies of former Salugpungan teachers and students.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)