The Save Our Schools Network urges the Department of Education to protect the Lumad schools in light of President Duterte’s proclamation of terminating peace talks with the NDF and the intensified military operations to come.
We join the Lumad students, teachers and parents in raising concern on the cancellation of talks as this signals the intensifying militarization in our communities and our perpetual displacement.
Time and again Lumad communities are not spared from military occupation and harassment since July 2016. There are 2,200 students and teachers in Lumad communities in Mindanao who were victims of harassment, and 39 Lumad schools that are forced to close down. Lumads are vilified by the military as sympathizers of the New People’s Army without proof.
We fear that the attacks will be more brazen now that peace talks are called off. With Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools which is happening, it only shows that Lumads will bear the force of the military operations.
SOS challenges DepEd to be accountable for the protection of the Lumad schools, who are victims of militarization and victims of bureaucratic delays. We challenge DepEd to put their words into action that they uphold Lumad schools as “Zones of Peace” protecting children, teachers and parents amidst militarization, and to scrap DepEd Memo 221 that institutionalizes the presence of soldiers and paramilitary in schools.
We still clamor though for the resumption of peace talks to address the deeper issues of the armed conflict, and to work out the agreement on socio-economic reforms that should bring meaningful change for the marginalized sectors including the Lumad and Moro communities.
Let the call for just peace and protection of Lumad schools and communities prevail over this situation.