Mayor Sara rebuffs Davao councilor on Salugpongan schools

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 September) – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Monday maintained the local government would stand pat on its decision calling for the closure of schools for Lumad (indigenous peoples) accused of having links with the communist underground.

Duterte said the 55 schools operated by the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center “failed to give justice to sacrifices and dreams of the Lumad students.”

“Salugpongan shall never operate in Davao City again because of this failure and unforgivable injustice,” Duterte said in a statement released by the City Information office on Monday.

The mayor was reacting to a privilege speech last week by City Councilor Pamela Librado-Morata, who voiced support for the Salugpongan.

Eleven Salugpongan schools are operating in the city’s hinterlands and the rest in various provinces of Davao Region.

Duterte said the local government conducted due diligence “in inquiring into the activities of Salugpungan schools before the City Peace and Order Council released a resolution seeking closure of the Salugpongan schools.”

“The councilor from Davao City who called on the Sangguniang Panlungsod to inquire into the closure of the Salugpungan schools in our city should first check the facts that form the basis of the request for closure, and not rely on the disinformation fed to her by the Makabayan bloc and its CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) allies,” she said.

On March 19, the CPOC submitted a resolution to the Department of Education (DepEd) requesting that the permit to operate of the Salugpungan schools in the city be terminated and canceled completely.

The resolution cited as grounds the alleged absence of academic records and individual learner’s reference number of the students and presence of DepEd schools in areas where Salugpongan operates.

Duterte said the schools “failed to give justice to the sacrifices and dreams of the Lumad students who spent their time with their organization, believing the school will help them better their chances in the future.”

She added the local government was provided with a written report containing the statement of an alleged Salugpongan pupil that students were taught how to use firearms and that they were indoctrinated with anti-government propaganda.

She said the government schools now had accommodated displaced students from 11 Salupongan schools.

Citing the report submitted by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, DepEd-Davao Evelyn 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 DepEd, using the children in rallies and teaching the pupils an anti-government ideology.

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, in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte after finishing Grade 12. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)