MANILA � Members of the indigenous peoples (IPs) community in Talaingod, Davao del Norte surfaced in a congressional hearing on Monday to disclose alleged abuses committed by teachers of the Salugpungan community schools, as they call on the government for their permanent shutdown.
In a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, groups of IPs from the same tribe and kin with different sentiments provided testimonies explaining their positions on the Salugpungan Ta'Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Inc.
Datu Joel Dahusay, an IP leader and among those pushing for the removal of Salugpungan schools in their community, shared how the New People's Army "fooled them" and "violated" their rights.
Dati, bata pa lang ako noon, sabi ng mga NPA mag-aral daw kami para hindi maloko ng gobyerno. Nung nakapag-aral na ako at gumradweyt, doon ko na-realize na ang NPA pala ang nanloko sa amin (When I was younger, the NPA would tell to us that we need to be educated so the government will not fool us. After I graduated, I realized that it was actually the NPA who fooled and are fooling us), Dahusay said in the hearing.
He added that when he learned about the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), he was surprised of the list of rights they deserve as natives of the land, and how much of these were violated by the NPA.
Nung bumalik na ako sa amin, meron nang nakatayong Salugpungan school at nakakagulat, obvious din po 'yung mga maling turo sa mga relativea kong lumad (When I returned home after graduation, the Salugpungan school was already operating there. I was shocked because they were teaching my relatives some obvious materials that were not taught in government schools), he said.
Dahusay added that the Salugpangan school subtly includes materials that inspire students to accept the communist movement.
Ang alphabet sa Salugpungan, sinasabi, A-armas, B-bala (Salugpungan teaches the alphabet differentlyA for armas [weapon], B for bala [bullet]), he said.
On the other hand, Rorelyn Mandacawan, currently a student of the Salugpungan school, defended the institution and said they were not taught of such things.
Tinuturuan po kami nang maayos ng aming paaralan, katulad po ng mga natutunan ng mga estudyante sa paaralan ng DepEd (Department of Education), ganon din po sa amin (We are taught the same way as those in government schools), she said.
Mandacawan was with Salugpungan Executive Director Meggie Nolasco to explain and defend the activities in the institution.
Bae Licayan Bibyaon, a lumad chieftain who went alongside Salugpungan school representatives for the discussion, said the IPs should instead be "welcoming" of the free education they receive.
Dahusay, however, said the rest of their people in Talaingod have access to formal education from DepEd.
Instead of going to Salugpungan that is teaching suspicious elements to our youth, dito na lang tayo sa mga public schools ng DepEd kasi meron naman. Sigurado pa tayo kasi gobyerno, (We can enroll our kids to public schools built by DepEd in our communities, at least here, it's government-run), he added.
Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief-of-staff for operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., meanwhile, raised concern over the legitimacy of permits issued by DepEd to the Salugpungan school, including the adherence of the school to IPRA provisions.
"The issue the Committee was debating on was focused on the legitimacy of DepEd permits issued, adherence to IPRA provisions like FPIC (free and prior informed consent). Makabayan bloc was bent on establishing the legitimacy of the private school Salugpungan and that it should not be closed," he said.
Salugpungan schools landed in the limelight after it was conclusively found out that they are being used to recruit minor members of indigenous communities to fill up NPA ranks. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency