Duterte threatens to bomb Lumad schools

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday threatened to bomb Lumad community schools in the provinces, claiming they were teaching students to rebel against the government.

"Umalis kayo diyan. Sabihin ko diyan sa mga Lumad ngayon, umalis kayo diyan. Bobombahan ko 'yan. Isali ko 'yang mga istruktura ninyo," he said.

[Translation: Leave. I'm telling those in the Lumad schools now, get out. I'll bomb you. I'll include your structures.]

In a press conference held after his State of the Nation Address, the President warned Lumads or indigenous people to steer clear of community schools without permits from the Department of Education, claiming they taught subversion and communism to their students.

Duterte said he would not hesitate to drop explosives down the schools if they continued to operate.

"I will use the Armed Forces, the Philippine Air Force. Talagang bobombahan ko 'yung mga… lahat ng ano ninyo [I will really bomb all of it]. Because you are operating illegally and you are teaching the children to rebel against government," he said.

Following Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao, there have been reports that increased military presence in Lumad communities have caused fear among students and prevented them from going to school.

READ: Children write letters to Duterte asking for the end of martial law in Mindanao

Lumads typically establish community schools in areas that are not accessible to traditional educational institutions. Many of these provide alternative learning systems for the indigenous youth rooted within the community's values and culture.

These schools, however, have been accused of sustaining close ties with communist rebels.

Prior to the Duterte administration, they'd also been subject to attacks and killings by paramilitary groups allegedly connected to the military, although the latter has denied any hand in the deaths.

READ: AFP chief appeals to netizens to see whole picture on lumad killings

In a statement released on Tuesday the palace reiterated, in tamer words, its warning against the schools.

"The President notes that certain Lumad/ indigenous schools are being used to foment rebellion against the government.  PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) warns them in the strongest terms to discontinue these actions; persistence will warrant appropriate government action," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

Abella added, the President wants to protect the youth by ensuring they get proper education in line with the respect for law.

"PRRD highlights the need to protect our youth and doing so entails ensuring they get the correct education that reinforces the right values that instill love of country and respect for our laws among others, and not rebellion," he said.

CPP: Duterte 'lowest of the low'

The Communist Party of the Philippines, however, has slammed Duterte's threat, calling him the "lowest of the low."

In a scathing statement released on Tuesday, the communists hit the President for targeting lumad schools attended by children.

"Having been rebuked by the people's jeers, you threaten to drop bombs on the Lumad schools. You threaten to kill the children. You are the lowest of the low," the statement said.

The CPP accused Duterte of being a bully, who could only exert power over those weaker than him but "bowed down" to stronger powers like China and the United States.

"You are a bully. An arrogant street thug intoxicated with power. But you only pick on the weak, the small and the oppressed. You bomb their homes, shell their communities and expect them to bow to your power. You exercise power but only against the powerless," the CPP said.