Former legislator calls for reopening of Lumad schools

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This article is available in Pilipino

Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, former representative of Bayan Muna, challenged the incoming education secretary Sonny Angara to allow the opening of Lumad schools that the former Duterte regime and the AFP closed.

In a statement today, July 5, Cullamat asserted that these will help in addressing the literacy crisis in Mindanao. Literacy and numeracy rates are low on the island. The lowest in the entire country was recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where only 71.6% and 78.7% of the people have basic literacy.

“We call on the DepEd under Angara to prevent being used as an instrument of vilification and Red-tagging against these schools, their administrations, teachers and students,” Rep. Cullamat said.

More than 100 such schools were forcibly closed by the state. Worse, the communities where they once stood were brought under military control, forcing the evacuation of entire Lumad communities. Along with the closing of said schools was the systematic campaign of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and detentions and many other abuses.

One of the most brutal was the assassination of the director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Emerito Samarca, and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo in 2015, in what is known as the Lianga Massacre.

Even those who came to the aid of teachers and students were harassed, such as the case of Talaingod 18 who were charged with fabricated cases of kidnapping and human trafficking in 2018. This included Rep. France Castro of the ACT Teachers Partylist and Satur Ocampo, also a former representative of Bayan Muna.

Cullamat said these repressions are clear examples of criminalizing the indigenous communities’ initiatives.

AB: Former legislator calls for reopening of Lumad schools