For the second straight year, Lumad students got to finish one school year in the evacuation center in UCCP Haran.
Some 56 Lumad students, mostly from Kapalong, finished pre-school to grade six levels, and held a moving up ceremony Friday at the University of Immaculate Conception grounds, one of the schools supporting the Lumad evacuees.
“This is now our second graduation here in the evacuation center,” said Ricky Balilid, a lumad teacher of Misfi Academy. He reiterated the call of the Lumads to pull out military troops and arrest paramilitary members who have caused their displacement for them to be able to go home.
Balilid said the children longed to go home since their parents have went home earlier this year through the Save Our Schools, PASAKA and Department of Social Welfare and Development, yet they opted to stay as school teachers have been targeted by the paramilitary Alamara.
“The students pleaded to stay here in the evacuation center as they really wanted to finish their studies as they are worried that their teachers will be harmed on their way home,” said Balilid.
Save Our Schools Network spokesperson Rius Valle affirmed the threat as they document recent attacks on schools in Davao Region.
As of March 2017, the network documented 55 cases of attacks on schools in southern Mindanao region alone affecting hundreds of lumad students including those from Talaingod and Kapalong.
He mentioned the recent case of the CLANS school in Calamansig, Sultan Kudarat where Lumad teachers were illegally detained and harassed by the Marines operating in the area.
“The attacks on schools heightened after the AFP’s declaration of all-out-war against the New People’s Army” he said.
Yet on a positive note, Valle said that the completion of lumad students this school year despite the attacks is a strong indication of determination of Lumad teachers and students to attain education to help their communities to protect their land and identity