IP leader hits call to reopen rebel-linked tribal schools

By Alexander Lopez / Philippine News Agency

Datu Rico Maca, the IPMR of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. (Photo lifted with permission from Datu Rico Maca's Facebook Account)

BUTUAN CITY – An Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in Surigao del Sur criticized the group Save Our School (SOS) Network for its call to reopen “Lumad” or tribal schools previously ordered closed for their links with the communist rebel movement.


Datu Rico Maca, the IPMR of San Miguel town, described the SOS Network's call as “absurd.”


“The IPs here in Surigao del Sur and other parts of Mindanao have already spoken and rejected these ‘lumad’ schools that served as the training ground for the terrorists Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA),” Maca said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Monday.


SOS and its "Salungpungan" schools have come under fire in recent months after former students and teachers divulged that learners were indoctrinated with the communist teachings on armed rebellion and other anti-government subjects.


Rebel links


Government forces also accused SOS-affiliated schools of acting as recruitment hubs for the communist rebel movement.


In a Facebook post on Sunday, the SOS Network said that “Lumad” schools ordered closed by the Duterte administration can be reopened.


The post added that the possibility of the reopening of these schools can be carried out with the support of lawyer Neri Colmenares, a former leftist lawmaker.


Among the schools the group is referring to are the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development in Surigao del Sur.


Colmenares, of the group Bayan Muna, is running for a Senate seat come May 2022 local and national elections.


DepEd-accredited


But Maca pointed out that “there is no way these schools can be reopened as IP schools,” noting that the Department of Education (DepEd) has already revoked their accreditation.


Likewise, the IP leader noted that the IP communities in Mindanao already have existing learning facilities accredited with DepED.


In San Miguel alone, Maca pointed out that at least 13 barangays already have 42 classrooms of DepEd-accredited IP schools.


Last year, two DepEd-accredited IP schools were also opened in the towns of Lianga and Marihatag in Surigao del Sur.


“We will continue to work hard to prevent the reopening of these schools. What we want is a good future for our children. For years, before their closure, these 'lumad' schools were used to poison the minds of our children and youth where they ended up joining the NPA rebels. Unfortunately, some of them were killed in the battlefields,” Maca said.


The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.


The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)

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