DepEd 11 insists Haran’s ‘bakwit school’ illegal

As the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC 11) pushed for the closure of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Mission Center, the Department of Education in Davao Region (DepEd 11) reiterated its earlier statement that the operation of 'Bakwit School' inside the said facility is illegal and has no government authority to operate.

DepEd 11 spokesperson Jenielito Atillo, told the Philippine News Agency on Monday, that the facility has no license or documents from their department.

If there is really an operation of a school, the operation should be with government authority, he said.

He also clarified that DepEd has not issued any permit to Haran.

As far as we are concerned it is not within the ambit of the education laws of the country, Atillo said, adding that their permits are non-transferable.

He also urged operators of Haran to enroll the children in nearby public and private learning institutions that have government authority and not to continue providing educational services without a government permit.

Grounds for closure

Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib, who moved for Haran's closure, said the IPs inside the facility are being exploited by the communist rebel movement for "various terroristic activities."

The center was accused of violating the Indigenous People's Rights Act, as well as committing child abuse and serious illegal detention offenses while engaging in human trafficking.

They were exploited in Haran and being used to be anti-government. It is the tribal leaders who requested the provincial government to bring them back to their respective communities, Jubahib said in a press briefing on Monday.

He also challenged the leaders of the UCCP Haran center to prove that they are not exploiting the IPs.

If your intention is clear and you really want to help them, open the center and let these IPs live freely. You should not abuse the weakness of these people. You bring your services right in their communities instead of locking them, Jubahib said.

Government efforts

Jubahib said he will not allow the military to vacate the IP communities for they are the peacekeepers that provided security against the communist groups.

He added that the developments in the IP communities particularly in Talaingod and Kapalong will eventually improve their living conditions.

The monthly seed distribution, for instance, Jubahib said, it will be their source of livelihood.

Apart from that, the provincial government through the National Housing Authority (NHA) will build 300 houses in Talaingod and 100 houses in Kapalong exclusively for the IPs.

He added that various access roads were also opened and scholarship grants were given to the IPs.

I want them to come home and use these projects which the government provided for them, Jubahib said. There is no reason for them to stay in Davao City for our services are already in their communities.

Opposition

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines Southeast Mindanao Jurisdictional Area (UCCP SEMJA) strongly opposed the resolution of the RPOC 11 dated Jan. 16, 2020 seeking the immediate closure of its Haran Center which has been serving as the temporary shelter for the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from various provinces since early 2015.

In a press briefing on Monday, UCCP SEMJA Bishop Hamuel Tequis, said the center is a sanctuary of peace and they will continue to serve the Indigenous People's (IPs) in Davao Region.

Haran's "Bakwit school" presently houses some 125 families or about 400 IPs from Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro and Arakan town, North Cotabato.

Datu Mentroso Malibato, vice-chairman of the Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations-Southern Mindanao Region (PASAKA-SMR), along with other tribal leaders condemned the decision of the peace body saying they will not leave the center for it gives them hope and security.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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