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Davao City, Philippines

55 Salugpungan schools in Davao Region suspended

July 13, 2019 - Saturday 7:07 AM by Ruth Palo

Article Banner Image File photo of members of the Ata-Manobo community in Talaingod, Davao del Norte holding a rally against Salugpungan schools on December 1, 2019. PIA photo

DAVAO CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd) 11 has ordered suspension of the permit to operate of the 55 schools operated and owned by the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers operating across Davao region starting last Friday, July 12, 2019.

The suspension order was issued on July 12, 2019 and was signed by DepEd 11 OIC regional director Dr. Evelyn Fetalvero upon the instruction of Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

The orders suspended the schools for operating only with a permit for their recognition status. Likewise, all their applications for renewal of government permits are held abeyance.

DepEd 11 spokesperson Jenielito Atillo told MDM that “permit to operate” refers to temporary authority to operate granted by the department to a private learning institution after submission of application requirements and its consequent approval following the application procedure provided in the department’s guidelines.

Atillo said the order was received by Maria Eugenia Nolasco, executive director of Salugpungan School in Davao Region, on Friday.

Atillo said through a show cause order issued by DepEd, Nolasco and all other school officials and staff members involved in the operation were directed to answer within 5 days why their permit to operate or recognition granted to them should not be fully revoked pursuant to the regulations of private schools and basic education in relation to the existing laws of the department. 

Atillo said the basis for the suspension of the Salugpungan schools was a report submitted to DepEd by National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, who chairs the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Esperon’s report stated several reasons for suspending the schools’ operations: that the institutions do not teach their learners the curriculum set by the department; that the schools making the children join anti-government rallies; and that the schools teach students to rebel against the government.

Atillo said that Esperon’s findings were based on an affidavit executed on December 6, 2018 by Melvin Mansaloon-Loyod, a volunteer teacher of Salugpungan in Barangay Santo Nino, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

In his affidavit, Loyod said the school was implementing “questionable teachings” that are aligned with the “violent ideology” of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Atillo said Loyod, who finished grade 12 in the Salugpungan school, revealed that the school was using learning modules which were not in accordance with DepEd’s curriculum.

Atillo said according to Loyod, the learning modules taught children how to conduct rallies against the government; how to perform drama presentations about Indigenous People (IP) being tortured by the military and about IP woman being raped; how to handle firearms; how to ambush soldiers; and other actions to destroy the government.

Atillo said Loyod’s testimony was serious enough to warrant DepEd’s immediate action.

He said the DepEd found it that this is contrary to the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and the laws of the land.

Atillo said by virtue of the suspension, DepEd is mandated to facilitate the enrollment of the affected students in nearby public schools to ensure the continuity of their education.

DepEd is also encouraging the Salugpungan teachers to apply at nearby DepEd-run public schools, subject to their compliance with requirements set by the department.

The Salugpungan schools were established to give IP groups in remote areas access to education. It was first established in Bukidnon and spread across Mindanao.

In 2018, tribal leaders from Davao Region asked for the closure of Salugpungan schools on suspicion that they were teaching children to rebel against the government.