DepEd creates panel to look into complaints vs group of tribal schools

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Aug) – The Department of Education (DepEd) in the Davao Region has created a five-man investigating panel that will look into the allegations of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon against the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc., which runs several schools in the region.

DepEd-Davao spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said in an interview on Thursday that the panel members will look at the issues hurled at the school “from all angles,” taking into account the side of the military and the response of the school officials to the complaints.

“This five-man team is tasked to look at all angles, gather everything that we will be able to gather, which will serve as basis for our decision later. We would like to stress that we are giving everybody here the opportunity to ventilate their views and opinions and their sides,” he said.

Atillo assured that the panel, composed of DepEd officials, would be impartial “in dealing with the issues” and free from the influence of “people from the outside,” assuring that the agency will come up with a fair and balanced decision.

Last July 10, DepEd-Davao director Evelyn R. Fetalvero issued a suspension order against the Salugpongan schools on the grounds cited in the complaints filed by Esperon, among them 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.

The agency asked the school to submit a show cause and extended the deadline for another five days from July 17 to July 22. Salugpongan complied at 2:29 p.m. on the last day, according to Atillo.

He said the panel had been studying the response of the school, “juxtaposing it with allegations imputed against them by Secretary Esperon himself, and the affidavit of a certain Lumad, 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.

Atillo said they plan to hold dialogues with school officials and other parties involved, including the tribe in the community and the military before coming out with a decision.

“Aside from the response of the Salugpongan that we received already, we are also devising a scheme to involve all other concerned individuals and groups. We will not be only limited to the complaints of Gen. Esperon, we will not only be limited to the response of Salugpongan,” he said.

Atillo said there is no target date as to when the agency completes the investigation but he hopes to get it done in the “soonest possible time” to avoid compromising the schooling of the Lumad children. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)