Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people…” —Isaiah 10:1-2
We, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), condemn President Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools and demand that he revoke his statement.
Tribal schools in Mindanao were initiated by various religious institutions and nongovernment organizations and operate with the help of the community members themselves. It is an effort to reach those communities too far away from regular schools.
The President’s statement is more than just bullying. It is a legitimate threat to the lives of Lumad students, parents and volunteer teachers. The government has failed to give services to these communities. Instead of vilifying them, President Duterte should recognize and support these schools for through them, Lumad children have gained access to education that the government has failed to provide.
Despite accusations that they are training Lumad children to be rebels, these tribal schools are part of the Philippine education system’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) and are by no means illegal. Some of them have been granted permits by the Department of Education; others are denied permits, not because they lack the requirements, but as part of continued attacks on indigenous peoples’ rights.
We join many other organizations in demanding that President Duterte retract this threat and call on Church people and the religious community to do so as well.
Spare Lumad schools! Stop the militarization of rural communities!
Signed by the members of the RMP National Board:
Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS
Sr. Mary Francis Añover, RSM
Sr. Lily Salilin, MSM
Sr. Merlita Rodulfo, MSM
[Reposted from: http://opinion.inquirer.net/106041/lumad-schools-no-means-illegal. Photo: A student from one of the RMP-NMR Literacy and Numeracy schools. Photo by Pau Villanueva.]