DepEd-Davao vows to make fair decision on complaints vs schools for Lumads

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) – The Department Education in the Davao Region (DepEd-Davao) will come out with a fair decision on the complaints filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon against Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. that had been suspended since last Friday for allegedly teaching the pupils in the 55 schools under it with communist ideologies and using them in rallies.

DepEd-Davao spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said in a press conference on Monday the agency would consider not only the military complaints against Salugpongan but also the response of the school administration to the accusations.

He said DepEd-Davao is waiting for the submission of a show cause, which had been extended for another five days from July 17 to July 22 following the request of Meggie Nolasco, the school’s executive director, last Monday.

In a text message on Tuesday, Nolasco confirmed seeking for another five-day extension.

“The regional DepEd gave us another five days to show cause and state our case,” she said.

She added they are meeting with their legal counsel to respond to what she said are “irregular” and “illegal” suspension order.

Nolasco said Salugpongan had already requested from DepEd-Davao copies of the documents submitted by the military that served as basis for the issuance of the suspension order “so we can answer them point by point.”

Lawyer Arvin Antonio V. Ortiz, DepEd-Davao legal officer, said “show cause” gave Salugpongan an opportunity to respond to the allegations of the military before coming out with a decision whether to close the school or not.

He said failure to submit a show cause will force the agency to “decide on the matter on the basis of available evidence” presented to the DepEd by the military.

Atillo said DepEd-Davao regional director Evelyn R. Fetalvero would issue an order whether to close permanently the schools or not “out of the response that we will be getting from the show cause” but added the school’s administration can elevate the matter to Education Secretary Leonor Briones if it is not satisfied with the decision.

“We issued the suspension because we wanted to give Salugpongan the opportunity to respond to all of these allegations imputed against them. They should look at this positively because we gave them opportunity to respond,” he said.

Atillo said the agency considered all the private learning institutions, including the Salugpongan, as its partners in delivering educational services to the far-flung communities.

Citing the report submitted by Esperon, Fetalvero said in her July 10 order that the Salugpongan schools had been suspended for failing to teach in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the DepEd, using the children in rallies, and teaching the pupils ideologies that advocate against the government.

Fetalvero was acting on the report submitted by Esperon, also the vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which was accompanied by an affidavit from a certain Melvin M. Loyod, who claimed to have volunteered as a teacher at Salugpongan in Sitio Pongpong, Barangay Sto. Niño, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte after graduating Grade 12. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)