The killing of Alcadev Director Emerito ‘Emok’ Samarca in Han-ayan, Surigao del Sur last September 1 only highlights the worsening attacks from state security forces against lumad schools and communities.
In the first Lumad Children’s Congress held since Tuesday in Tandag, Surigao del Sur, attended by 200 school children and teachers who reported that there has been 95 cases of attacks on teachers and students in Lumad schools all over Mindanao since September 2014, or an average of eight cases every month.
The figures include the various harassment by the paramilitary and soldiers against the Salugpongan Learning Center and MISFI Academy in Davao Region and neighboring boundaries. Among the notable cases include the present attempt of the barangay captain in White Culaman, Bukidnon to close down the MISFI Academy despite the order from the DepEd not to attempt the school closure.
Such cases have raise alarm from educators of the violations of the military and government officials against the rights to education.
“Lumad children have been exposed to life-threatening conditions as their schools are continuously being occupied and/or attacked by state security forces, this has to stop!” said Prof. Mae Fe Templa, convener of Save Our Schools Network Mindanao which is one of the lead organizers of the Congress.
“The gathering here today represents the voice of all lumad children in Mindanao in their struggle for their right to education. Their struggle is also our struggle. We will certainly not waste the effort of these children” Templa added.
The Congress heard the voice of a Manobo student of Salugpongan Learning Center in Talaingod, Roland Dalin, who voiced the lumad youth’s call to stop the attacks of their schools.
“Nagtapok man mi karon tungod kabalo mi nga naa miy matabang labi na sa among eskwelahan nga kanunay gina-atake sa mga militar, ginapasanginlan nga mga NPA ug ginapatay among mga magtutudlo” (We are gathered here today because we know that we can help our school that have been always subjected to military attacks, accused of being NPAs and our teachers being killed) said Roland Dalin, a Manobo student in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
The Children’s Congress held workshops with the schoolchildren, who wrote out their calls to President Benigno Aquino III to protect their schools by ordering the pullout of the military and paramilitary groups in their schools and communities.
Templa said the results of the Children’s Congress will be raised to the Third Save Our Schools Mindanao-wide Conference which would start on Friday after the closing of the Children’s Congress, and said they will raise the call to revoke the Department of Education Memo 211 that allows the presence of the military in schools.
“The start of the 3rd SOS Mindanao Wide Conference tomorrow will feature different support organization and individuals aiming to identify more concrete resolutions on the worsening situations of children’s rights violation and attacks on schools, we will persevere to help our lumad children attain their dreams” said Templa.
The congress was organized by Kalumaran or Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao and Save our Schools Network Mindanao together with other national and local organizations.