Government News Analysis

School’s out in Lumad country

Lumads the tribes of the southern Mindanao region comprising some 18 ethnic groups

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has put certain schools of indigenous communities on notice – stop teaching subversion and communism or become targets of the Philippine Air Force. And virtually within minutes of issuing that ultimatum, he was under attack from human-rights groups and the progressive Left.

They called on him to make an immediate retraction. Human Rights Watch (HRW) – an arch Duterte critic – claimed the president was “directing the military to commit war crimes”. Militant-Left party-list group, Action Concerning Teachers – another of Duterte’s detractors – condemned the statement as “clear red-tagging on a large scale, and endorsement of violence and murder against indigenous peoples”. Red-tagging is the public denouncement of communist sympathisers.

It was the usual outrageous inflammatory rhetoric. It sought to flare passions by invoking images of school children whose bodies would be torn limb from limb as attack helicopters strafed their classrooms and warplanes leveled them with gravity bombs; of the innocent falling prey to a government’s military might – the oppression of vulnerable minorities by an egregious brutal bully.

Of course, none of that was even vaguely implied in Duterte’s statement. He simply wants to put an end to the communist brainwashing of Filipino youth among the lumads (photo) – the tribes of the southern Mindanao region comprising some 18 ethnic groups – which have sought self-determination for the best part of 35 years.

“I would free the children from your perdition, because otherwise they would learn to be like you”.
Duterte’s purpose is to liberate the lumad school children from the clutches of the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA) – the paramilitary wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has been at war with the national government since 1969. It’s long been suggested that the schools are being used to indoctrinate the next generation with communist ideology and mentally equip it as the next wave of NPA fighters.

Directing his remarks at the NPA, Duterte said this: “I would free the children from your perdition, because otherwise they would learn to be like you”. He continued: “They grow up there hating government and going to war when they are adults. You are perpetuating the violence in this country and I have to stop it. I have every reason to stop it because you are producing another generation of haters”.

So, just for the record, the president has no intention of issuing the order to kill school children as the progressive Left would like us to believe – “I did not say I would kill the children, he said – but he most certainly has the appetite to raze their classrooms to the ground if the NPA persists in using these facilities for proselytising and recruiting among the indigenous groups.

That didn’t stop HRW, however, as it saw in Duterte’s remarks yet another opportunity of painting him as a tyrant. “Deliberately attacking civilians, including students and teachers, is also a war crime”. It suggested that “Instead of denying Filipino children their right to safe education, Duterte should sign the Safe Schools Declaration”.

Leaving aside the irrational licence which the wholly politically motivated HRW took with Duterte’s comments and its bizarre definition of “safe education”, let’s take a little closer look at that Safe Schools Declaration.

This was an inter-governmental political initiative that came out of an international conference in Oslo in May 2015 and has been signed by 68 counties. To date, Malaysia is the only state in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – of which the Philippines is a founding member – that’s signed up to it. Furthermore, of the G20 states, a grouping of the world’s 20 major economies, the United States – HRW’s home country – hasn’t, nor has China, India, Russia, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea or the United Kingdom.

But now, apparently, according to HRW, would be a good time for the Philippines to buck the trends in both Asean and the G20.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson, Ernesto Abella, has further clarified Duterte’s remarks. “The President notes that certain lumad/indigenous schools are being used to foment rebellion against the government. [He] warns them in the strongest terms to discontinue these actions; persistence will warrant appropriate government action”.

This indigenous population has regularly been used as a pawn in a bitter political game of chess
Abella added that Duterte’s concern was in protecting the youth and 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”.

The lumads’ wish is to live in their ancestral lands and be free to enjoy their culture and practice their customs. But for three and a half decades now they’ve been embroiled in conflicts raging across their region involving Moro (Muslim), communist and government forces. Furthermore, over time, this indigenous population has regularly been used as a pawn in a bitter political game of chess – by every group from government to the Marxist-Leninist National Democratic Front to the Roman Catholic Church.

There’s no question that members of these tribes have borne arms for the NPA and continue to fight in their ranks; no question that lumad communities, generally, support the communist insurgents; no question that their schools are protected by the NPA. A 2013 United Nations report – “Grave Violations Committed Against Children in 22 Situations of Concern” – identified and blacklisted the NPA for recruiting child soldiers. The NPA is heavily engaged in the lumad-populated areas on Mindanao making the ethnic groups a ready source of recruitment.

In 2015, Magdalo party-list representative, Ashley Acedillo, claimed that lumads account for as much as 70% of all NPA forces in Mindanao  Lumads have also fought alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Moro insurgent groups, despite the fact that they’re non-Muslim.

The main issue here though is the schools – literally hundreds of them. Like the madrassas – the Islamic religious schools of Pakistan – which have been used as jihadi academies, the lumad schools are perceived as breeding grounds for militant communism. In between being radicalised, their young charges are used as look-outs, couriers and camp staff and are given rudimentary training in handling firearms according to former pupils.

Acedillo identified a school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, as an NPA recruitment centre, where children are instructed on being hostile to the government. He has evidence that pro-government answers to tests were marked as wrong. Children there also sing a “different national anthem”.

Like so much of what goes on in the Philippine hinterland, the state or rural education in these areas is reprehensible.
The other issue is that many of these schools are operating without a licence from the Department of Education (DOE); their curriculums and staff are un-vetted. As such, these schools are illegal teaching establishments which fail to comply with DOE regulations and are beyond DOE school inspection and supervision. The Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (or, Alcadev) in Surigao, in the north east of Mindanao, for example, has no DOE permit to operate and refuses to get one.

Clearly, on many levels this situation is a mess. Like so much of what goes on in the Philippine hinterland, the state or rural education in these areas is reprehensible. Government neglect over many decades is responsible for what effectively has become a breeding ground for rebellion. Of that there’s absolutely no question.

These are poor people to start with; add to that the lure of access to education and parents will seize the opportunity in a New York minute. It matters not that it’s not government approved; it matters not that the NPA are the board of governors of these schools. In the absence of anything else – there are places there where government education has never reached – they’ll take it. After all, they ask, what has the government ever done for them? Their ancestral lands have all but disappeared; they’ve been uprooted, evicted, evacuated and dispersed with every successive chapter of conflict as their culture and customs wear evermore thin.

The plight of the lumads is sad; it’s a stain on the country’s history and it’s high time it was addressed. One problem has been that they’re a long way from Manila – and so out of sight, out of mind; an abiding problem where Mindanao’s been concerned in the past.

But the odd thing is that successive governments, any amount of human-rights and civil liberties groups and, of course, the Roman Catholic Church all claim to be concerned about their plight. The question is though, with so much support how come the lives of the lumad remain so wretched?

We only ever hear about them when they’re caught up in some hellish combat and each side in the conflict blames the other for their misery, or when the Church is opposing the erection of power-generation plants, or logging or mining or anything that threatens its vision of some odd ‘pastoral economy’.

Meanwhile, the NPA will continue to poison the minds of the young and exploit them in their reckless Marxist obsession; their addled romantic quest to turn the Philippines into a new Cuba. It will continue to use the lumad youth to swell its ranks and foment rebellion. And that’s why, unless these schools are made to comply with the requirements of the Department of Education; unless the NPA is removed from these establishments, Duterte will close them down – one way or another.

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  • Typical Joma Sison modus – bomb the school and blame it on Duterte. With billions in rev tax collections, expect media to be blasting us happily with Joma’s propaganda.

  • Instead of being proud of the variety of indigenous people he threatens to bomb their schools. Many supporters say that he did not mean it so. If so don’t say it. It makes you incredible. Do we now have to evaluate what he meant so and what he didn’t? It’s like a poker game.

    • Many Lumads are NPA followers and sympathizers…most NPAs are indigenous recruits while there are the subversive leftists from the ranks of activists-students who later enlisted with the NPA.

    • The problem with the leftist and the NPAs are inconsistencies. They talk about reforms in the government while doing the very things that are against the government. Extortion ??? Who are doing it ??? The very same people that was pursued by the gov’t forces, criminals. Cause oriented groups did not pursue the real reason why Mendiola Massacre and Hacienda Luisita happened, only the ones directly affected. The common Filipinos prayed for someone with Duterte’s caliber to become a leader and it was granted. Here the left was exposed because they still attacked and ambushed gov’t troops even with the on going peace talks. The NPAs created situations where Gov’t forces had to hit their tribes and accumulate sympathizers in the process, and you want it to continue ??? Where’s the common sense in that ???

    • Yabang mo hinfi ka nga nkapunta ng gubat na may mga lumad. Yong style nila panis na yon. Hihingi sila ng ayuda sa govt. Dahil mahirsp sila tapos ibigsy fin nila sa npa para pang gastus at pagpadarsp ng buhay ng leader nila.

      ESPECIALLY THESE℅™¥%#@?!+”*[¶×π√€©®®[£

      A~~~RMY NI JOMA(MAMATAY KA NA) SISO(OOOOOOOO)N👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊👊

    • no brother, it is not like that..the president is just,he want the lumads out of the picture of this left organizations. ayaw nyang maging terorista ang mga lumads. he didnt threatens the lumads, he(president) wants them to be enlightened. its my opinion and observation

  • Human rights groups are financed by George Soros and their expertise is regime change. Matter of fact they were successful in Ukraine. They attempted the same in Turkey but they failed and they are now languishing in jail. About indigenous people,they were used in the 70’s by the opposition ( yellows and CPP) to rally against the dictatorship and they still use them although they don’t benefit at all. In my opinion Digong is using golpe de gulat in managing this sick nation bc he believes it’s what our country needs to get us going.

  • Dapat gawan agad ng paraan ng gobyerno. Ito talaga ang madaling target para ibrain wash ng mga demonyo dito sa pilipinas. Pag nagkataon, kawawa ang mga lumad at dagdag sakit sa ulo yan ng gobyerno. Dapat ang damputin dyan ay yung nagtuturo para sa makakaliwang daan!

  • hahaha ayaw ipatigil ng HRW ang pagtuturo ng rebellion… malinaw ang sinabi ni President DUTERTE itigil ang pagtuturo ng rebellion sa mga batang lumad…dahil kung hindi titigil talagang wawasakin ang school of rebellion ng mga lumad…ang HRW gyera daw sa humanity…e ano kaya yong pagtuturo ng rebellion sa mga bata?…hindi ba gyera din para sa humanity?…sagotin nyo kung hindi gyera ang pagtuturo ng rebellion sa mga bata?

  • Abolish the lairs of the cpp npa ideologists …. marami sila sa mga SUC’S and private schools…pls digong ipagbawal ang sobrang student activism dapat regulated ang mga iyan…para taying tanga na nagpapaaral sa mga taong balng araw sisira sa bansa natin kaya dapat lang na tingnan to ng gobyerno..

  • ito ang tunay na pagbabago…

    for 30 long years they were neglected by our national government…so what do you expect…the rebels filled-up the vacuum…

    remove the vacuum and will solve the problem…

  • … thank you Volatilian for sharing with us what’s going on inside the hinterlands… its only now i get a better picture regarding the plight of the Lumads and probably other indigenous tribes/clans because we, in the city, dont get to read often about them… they seemed to be a hidden bomb that if not addressed to by our country’s President may explode one day… my heart too is with all indigenous people… but to exploit their innocence, and working on to go against a legit government will certainly put them in danger… i hope the leaders of these tribes will give more preference on keeping their culture and traditions intact than be erased all together because of the NPAs wrong indoctrination.

    • Haydee Mahinay talagang mahinay yang utak mo! Everyday is shabu day dun sa previous admins kaya d criminal minds are free to do as they pleases, including exploiting the lumads to further their illegal money making activities.

  • Pwede ba lahat ng mga anak ng mga chr papasukin sa sarili nilang eskuelahan..pagawa kasi sila ng sarili nilang skul at doon sila manirahan..ituro nila sa mga anak nila na maging bastos sa mga magulang nila ituro nila na disobedient sila..hwag gamitin ang pampublikong paaralan..

  • Alam ni Pres. Duterte yan dyan sa kanayunan lalo yon katutubo dyan ginagawa yon teach in seminar gamit ang librong sinulat ni Jose Maria Sison tulad ng Philippine Society and Revolution at iba pa tulad ng Red Book ni Mao Tse Tung libro ni Karl Marx, Stalin at Lenin yon Bolshevik revolution naganap sa Russia ito yon mga aklat na panlason sa kaisipan ng kabataan para tuwiran magalit sa sistema ng demokratikong pamahalaan tinatanim nila yon kaisipan sosyalista at komunista.
    Kaya may katwiran ang Pres.Duterte na supilin ang brain washing na ginagawa sa kanayunan at kabundukan ng mga may kaisipan maka komunista.

  • If thats what it takes so be it ,,is there anyone who had feelings to lumads ,,politics used them every election ,,every event especialy to destabilise the government,,no one dares to lift the burden of lumads ,lumads situation is their fate and dony let yourselves like you all care these indigenous people ,you hypocrite

  • ganito yan..if u r lumads and you embrace the ideology and actions of terrorist/extremists/left..then, u r not lumad already part of their organizations..terrorista k n..

  • The President is clear and direct. It is clear that he is referring to the NPA-established schools and directs his orders in the destruction of the same should these ILLEGALLY-established schools don’t cease to operate from teaching subversion and hatred to government. These lumad schools are privately-owned BUT has no License To Operate issued by the duly-authorized government agencies.

  • In hindsight, education is the westernization of IPs. No longer will they depend on mother nature, tradition or value community once they figure how capitalist use and abuse them. They become the beast that they once hunted.

    “Live simple so others may simply live.”

  • Dapat inbistigahan si Joma Sison kong saan sya kmukuha ng pondo kc bakit sya nagtatago sa demokrasyang bansa dapat magtago sya sa kakampi nya hindi sa kalaban nya, baka fake ang ipinaglalaban nya na communisnm kuno. Kung magtatago ka dapat sa kakampi mo hindi sa kalaban mo.