MANILA, July 14, 2015—The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) has assured Save Our Schools Network (SOSN) it will support its teachers who fear persecution after they decried military moves to tag their schools as “NPA schools.”
SOSN made headlines recently when it was revealed that the Department of Education (DepEd) ordered many of its schools to close due to accusations from the military that they are breeding grounds for rebels.
Committed to formal and non-formal education of indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao, the SOSN teachers expressed sadness over the closure of the schools.
‘Not allowed to open’
In a statement, Rex R. B. Reyes, Jr., NCCP general secretary, shared that representatives of the learning centers are now in Metro Manila to make the rounds of various government agencies where they hope to find willing ears to listen to their plight.
In order to bring to the attention of partners and agencies worldwide their condition, the interfaith coalition went on to call for an international campaign which will uphold the rights of Mindanao IPs.
The education department denied the news, saying it “did not close the schools (but) were simply not allowed to open.”
Meanwhile, at a forum held recently, SOSN representatives detailed how they experienced harassment, threats, and intimidation at the hands of the military.
They expressed disappointment that even the DepEd and the local governments in the area were helpless to stop the military from closing the learning centers.
Moreover, they lamented that while they complied with the requirements of the DepEd, some of which were unrealistic, permits were still not given.
The teachers also pointed out the link between the plight of the schools with the human rights violations in IP communities.
They maintained that all these human rights violations are a result of the indigenous people’s resistance to development aggression in their areas.
To date, SOSN has more than 50 learning centers in many IP communities all over the country, particularly in Region II. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)