Press Release

July 16, 2019

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580

Karapatan hits DepEd for the shutdown of 55 Lumad schools, questions Esperon’s report

“This government continuously shows us its propensity for condemning people and communities on the basis of “lists” and unverified reports. This was true for the proscription petition which included hundreds of individuals and aliases who were not vetted by the Department of Justice, and were merely fed by the AFP, PNP, and NICA. The Department of Education’s order for the closure of 55 Lumad schools stems from the same false, unverified and malicious reports,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General said.

According to reports, the shutdown of the schools, operated and owned by the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers was based on the report of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict headed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. The closure order was contained in a letter dated July 12, 2019, and was signed by Evelyn Fetalvero, director-in-charge of DepEd Southern Mindanao.

“Karapatan strongly condemns the DepEd’s shutdown of indigenous people’s schools in Mindanao, based on unfounded claims by Esperon. His accusations are recycled lies by militarist hawks who have derided schools that genuinely catered to members of indigenous communities by being pioneers in developing a curriculum that is truly appropriate and responsive to the needs of the community. We encourage everyone to look at the curriculum and the practice of these schools, that they may see an advanced and apt curriculum design that puts the needs of the community at the core of the indigenous children’s education,” Palabay added.

“We are continuously outraged by the government’s pronouncements and orders against its own people. Truly, martial law in Mindanao has been it easier to trample on the people’s right to education and block the indigenous communities’ efforts to build and sustain their own schools following years of government neglect. We vehemently question and challenge Esperon and their dangerous reports that have just denied various indigenous children their right to education,” Palabay said.

“The said schools adhered to the requirements set by the DepEd and it is unacceptable that they ordered the closure of the educational institutions based on unverified claims by Esperon. With their lack of interest to even verify the reports, they showed us how inutile they are in promoting everyone’s right to education,” Palabay concluded.

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.