CHR: Due process needed in suspending Lumad schools

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 18) — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) calls for due process in the suspension of 55 Lumad schools in the Davao region.

"While we recognize the need to address security issues, the allegation that the said Lumad schools are training ground for ‘rebels’ still require substantial pieces of evidence and due process," CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement Thursday.

She added that the children, who are also indigenous people, are among the country's most vulnerable sectors.

The CHR said there is a need to come up with long-term solutions in protecting the Lumads not just from miseducation but also from rebel groups.

"Government must contemplate long-term solutions to the realities being faced by Lumad children, who may actually be innocent but are targeted by rebel groups. Suspension of the Lumad schools’ operations may fall short as a solution to a complex issue that require a more comprehensive assessment other than from a security perspective," de Guia said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) Region 11 on Friday suspended 55 schools operated and owned by the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center.

Among the basis for the suspension was a report from National Security Adviser (NSA) Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, chairperson of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, who alleged that the schools were being used to teach the students "left-leaning ideologies", and that they encourage the students to rebel against the government.

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said that they also took into consideration other sources of information in the decision to suspend the schools.

"It's not as if the report of the NSA is the only source of information because we have been gathering info, I have talked to the officials," Briones told reporters Thursday.

The Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center has until July 22 to explain its side to the DepEd.

The DepEd said it will facilitate the enrollment of displaced students in public schools.