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Tribal leaders seek closure of Salugpongan school in Davao

Tribal leaders at Sitio Kahusayan, Calinan, Davao City faced government representatives Tuesday to ask for the closure of a left-leaning local school.

The school is operated by non-government organization Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc. supposedly to enhance the life skills and knowledge of lumad or indigenous people (IP) children. However, the parents have ruled out sending their children to the Salugpungan Community Learning Center on suspicion that the school was teaching children to rebel against the government.

The IP leaders rather appealed for the construction of a Department of Education school that would cater to the learning needs of tribal children.

Tribal leader Datu George Mandahay expressed deep concern for the children who are now unsure if they can still enroll in the coming school year.

“Tungod kay dugay pa man ang proseso nga ginasunod sa DepEd una masirado ang Salugpungan, mismong mga lumad na ang nagkandado niini kay dili panggobyerno ang ginatudlo didto. Gani ang “a” nga ginatudlo sa mga bata kay armas ug ang “b” kay bala” (Since it took so long for the DepEd before it can call for the closure of the school, the IP leaders themselves did the closure. We have observed that Salugpungan schools are not teaching our children what the government has set. Instead, they teach the  kids words like guns and bullets), Mandahay narrated.

The IPs have requested the DepEd to revoke the recognition of the Salugpungan and build a public school instead. This way, they are assured that their children are not taught with subversive ideas.

“Naguul mi kay wala mi kabalo kung asa na namo paeskwelahon ang mga bata kung wala na ang Salugpungan. Mao nga nanghangyo mi sa gobyerno nga unta matukuran sa DepEd ug eskwelahan diri sa among lugar” (We are worried for our kids where to enroll them now that the Salugpungan learning center is no longer operational. We are requesting the government to build a DepEd public school here in our area), Mandahay added.

Meanwhile, the DepEd in Region 11 (DepEd-11)  clarified that it is now strictly checking the compliance of these Salugpungan schools before issuing a permit to operate for the next school year. Once it sees non-compliance with requirements including absence of enrollees, DepEd is bound to shut these schools.

The DepEd is mandated by law to issue permit to operate or full recognition to private institutions serving IP learners with guidelines stipulated in its Department Order #21 series 2014.

The department can grant to an applicant full recognition if it has fulfilled all conditions necessary for a basic education program. So far, there are only three schools in Davao region that have acquired full recognition. These are the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center  Inc. in Talaingod, Davao del Norte; and SILDAP in Baganga, Davao Oriental and Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province.

All other Salugpungan schools have been operating only with a permit to operate which means these schools are still in the process of completing the requirements for full recognition. They renew this permit every year.

The DepEd-11 clarified that these private learning institutions are given until September 30, 2019 to submit renewal applications. DepEd division offices will then conduct monitoring and evaluation as basis if renewal shall be issued or not.

The DepEd, however, assured the IPs that even if many Salugpungan schools may possibly be closed due to non-compliance of requirements and absence of enrollees, the DepEd has ensured a budget to build 66 new public schools all over Davao Region this year.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations Major Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. stressed that these ongoing efforts to thresh out problems in solving insurgency were lateral to the National Plan recently approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The President rallied all instrumentalities of government to work together in a Whole-of-Nation Movement to address violent conflicts. The said National Plan harmonizes various efforts of  the government and all sectors to deliver goods and services as well as peace and security in conflict-affected communities.(By Frances Mae Macapagat)

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