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PRESS RELEASE: Teachers reiterate calls for the immediate release of unconditional permits for IP schools; hits continuing military attacks against teachers, students and community

"We call on the government through the Department of Education to stand for the right of the IPs for education and to reject all attempts to be used as an instrument by the military and its subsidiary units which include CAFGU and para-military groups like Alamara (an armed IP group alleged to be operating under the supervision of the AFP) in attacking these schools and committing various human rights abuses and violations against the teachers, students and their community,” stressed Mr. Valbuena.

PRESS STATEMENT
July 7, 2015

For Reference: Mr. Benjie Valbuena, ACT National Chairman
+63 916 -229 4515

Teachers reiterate calls for the immediate release of unconditional permits for IP schools; hits continuing military attacks against teachers, students and community

Manila City, Philippines - The Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Philippines today together with the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network registered anew its call for the immediate release of unconditional permit for the operation of Indigenous People’s (IP) schools in Mindanao and condemn the continuing attacks against its teachers, students by the military.

“It is already July and hundreds of students are still unable to go back to school after the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to deny the release of the schools’ permit to operate. Though some permits are released already, schools are still unable to open classes as these permits are ‘conditional’ in nature and runs in contrary and this assails the IP’s right freely operate their schools in a manner that is reflective and responsive to their customary laws and practices,” said Mr. Benjamin Valbuena, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) national chair.

DepEd has released 26 “conditional” permits to operate out of 46 schools so far. These permits depart from the usually issued permits by the education department over the years as these include “conditions” for them to operate.

“It appears that the DepEd is allowing the military to use it in their continuing human rights abuses and attacks against these schools built by the community themselves after its continuing inutility to act in the defense of these schools against human rights abuses committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over the past years. This include DepEd’s issuance of Memorandum No. 221 series of 2013 which allows the entry of military personnel in schools and the recent act of Davao del Norter Division Superintendent Dr. Josephine Fadul ordering the closure of the IP schools in Davao del Norte and recommendation that public schools be established with the military as teachers.

We call on the government through the Department of Education to stand for the right of the IPs for education and to reject all attempts to be used as an instrument by the military and its subsidiary units which include CAFGU and para-military groups like Alamara (an armed IP group alleged to be operating under the supervision of the AFP) in attacking these schools and committing various human rights abuses and violations against the teachers, students and their community,” stressed Mr. Valbuena.

Schools are supposed to be zones of peace as declared by UNICEF and even through DepEd Order No. 44 series of 2005 which declared school as “zones of peace.” DepEd must do all possible means to protect schools including its students and teachers against military incursion and operations. Schools are for teachers and students for learning and not for the military and their military operations. We challenge the entire DepEd to adhere to these declarations and covenants,” ended Mr. Valbuena.