“Balik komunidad! Balik eskwela! (Back to community! Back to school!)”, chanted Lumad children as they urged the new government to withdraw military presence in their communities so that they can return to their communities.
Thousands of Lumad children are still living in evacuation centers because of military presence in their communities. The children are not just facing unstable living conditions in evacuation sites, but are also being deprived of their right to education.
Photo courtesy of SOS Network.
According to Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, more than 5,000 Lumad children and their 372 teachers have been displaced from their communities.
While new schools are set to open within the school year, SOS revealed there are reports that several schools will not resume classes due to military presence as the Armed Forces implements the last leg of its counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bayanihan.
“There is nothing more inspiring than the resolve of these Lumad children, their families and communities,” said Reina Requioma, SOS Network spokesperson.
Photo courtesy of SOS Network.
“Despite having experienced a multitude of violations wreaked by military personnel – encampments in their schools and communities, threats and harassment, and even the killing of their school’s administrators and leaders – here they are pursuing their humble but noble aspiration to learn and work towards the betterment of their communities,” Requioma also said.
On the next page: Makeshift classrooms
Valle said that this school year, about 1,000 Lumad students in Mindanao will begin classes in makeshift classrooms in evacuation centers–400 learners at the Haran compound in Davao, and 600 in the Tandag Sports Complex in Surigao del Sur.
According to an article by Tricia Aquino on TV5, mass evacuation of the Lumads happened in September 2015 following the murders of school administrator Emerito Samarca and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo. The murders were allegedly by the Magahat militia. Details of Aquino’s interview below:
“The government’s counter-insurgency have targeted and wrecked Lumad’s lives and communities, but their children have shown resistance by continuing their education,” said Valle.
“With the new incoming administration, hopes are high that the concern of the IPs will be finally attended to, especially the Lumad children’s education. This includes seeking justice and accountability for Lumad victims of state violence perpetrated by the Aquino Administration” he added.
“We are hopeful that the new administration will be able to help Lumad children continue their education not in evacuation sites anymore but right within their community, where they would be able to return safe and sound” Valle concluded.
Read: Duterte backs K to 12, earns wrath of youth groups
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ to stay up-to-date on the latest from theAsianparent.com Philippines!