Women’s partylist group Gabriela today joined children’s rights advocates and Makabayan solons in condemning the vilification and harassment of Lumad schools operated by the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS) in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.
A House Resolution has been filed to probe the series of harassment led by Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Abubacar “Bakre” Maulana which started last October 11, 2016. Maulana reportedly gathered Dulangan Manobos in barangays Kipunget and Dumolol in the guise of 4Ps and Kalahi-CIDSS meeting and ordered the closure of the community schools operated by CLANS. Maulana accused teachers of being members of the New People’s Army and further threatened the teachers that they will be arrested if they continue teaching in their communities. Maulana also offered community members a Php 5,000 reward to those who can provide pictures of the teachers and administrative staff of CLANS.
At least 18 CLANS-operated schools in Palimbang have temporarily ceased operations affecting at least 1003 students.
“It is as much an outrage as it is an irony that this blatant deprivation of children’s rights comes in the wake of the nation’s celebration of Children’s Month. Clearly, Palimbang Mayor Maulana has long been negligent of his duties to provide basic social services to his constituents in the far-flung barangays of Dumulol which prompted residents to seek the assistance of organizations like CLANS. Now, it is Maulana himself who is leading the closure of these schools,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas.
Brosas said students in the area have to trek at least one hour and traverse a busy highway before reaching the nearest Department of Education operated school. Last month, one of the students reportedly died after he was hit by a running van on his way to school.
Fellow Gabriela solon Emmi De Jesus meanwhile said the attacks on Lumad schools goes against the grain and the spirit of the ongoing peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “Vilifying organizations by labeling them as NPAs fan a state of unrest and worse, these also justify and encourage military operations against the NPA amid the declaration of ceasefire from both the government and the NDFP. Moreover, the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms contains specific provisions upholding every child’s right to education and seeks the efficient delivery of basic social services.”
Brosas and De Jesus said Mayor Bakre Maulana as well as local AFP and PNP officials including Department of Education and Department of Social Work and Development officials will be subject to questioning in congress committee deliberations and must be held accountable. #