Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools in the past, now offers to build schools in Papua New Guinea

November 19, 2018 - 5:49 PM
Indigenous youth in classroom
A group of indigenous youth learning in a classroom. (The STAR/File photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte was criticized when he offered to help Papua New Guinea build schools in order to boost their education and livelihood sectors since he previously threatened to bomb Lumad schools, a non-Muslim indigenous community in Southern Philippines, before.

The chief executive made the pronouncement during his visit to Papua New Guinea for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

Speaking in front of a Filipino community in Port Moseby, Duterte said, “We can come here, we can establish schools and if you want a university. And we are good at that. We will try to help you. We need to develop and develop well Papua New Guinea. We are willing to help.”

His remarks were criticized by a social media user who recalled Duterte’s contradictory disposition toward another community in relation to educational institutions before.

‘Bobombahan ko ‘yan’ 

Back in July 2017, Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools in Mindanao because he believes they are run by communist guerrillas.

In a press conference following his second State of the Nation Address, Duterte said before, “Sabihin ko diyan sa mga lumad ngayon, umalis kayo diyan. Bobombahan ko ’yan. Isali ko ’yang mga istruktura ninyo.”

He continued in Filipino, “All the money for those social ameliorations, I’ll use them in… Anyway, those bridges would be destroyed; the schools would be burned. The schools of the lumads, they’re operating without the Department of Education’s permit.”

He accused the Lumad schools of teaching subversion and the ideals of communism instead of regular subjects approved by DepEd.

However, a personnel from DepEd’s Indigenous Peoples Education Office debunked Duterte’s claims and said that the Lumads have the same core curriculum as that of non-indigenous students.

READ: For Lumad schools, even holding class is a struggle

The Department of Education recognizes that some learners are better served through options outside the mainstream. Aside from the Alternative Learning System, DepEd also has an office devoted to IP Education. (Philstar/File photo)

Maria Lourie Victor of DepEd shared that their curriculum is only “localized” so that it would be more culturally appropriate to members of indigenous communities. Tribe elders and members are consulted to ensure accuracy.

A few days after Duterte made the threat, he retracted and said that he only meant to destroy the school structures, not the Lumad students and teachers.

“Yes, wala akong sinabi na bombahan ko ‘yang may tao kaya sinabi ko umalis kayo diyan. Ibig sabihin, sisirain ko ‘yan because you are using a school without a license from the Department of Education,” he clarified.

Non-government organization Save our Schools Network in Davao revealed that around a year after Duterte has threatened to bomb Lumad schools and tag them as “communists,” reports of the government forces harassing and disturbing the indigenous community has surfaced.

READ: Lumads from Mindanao air ‘abuses’ of military

Red-tagging of schools 

Previously, several universities and colleges have been tagged by the AFP for supposedly recruiting students in the New People’s Army through film viewings, of which the schools have respectively denied.

READ: What schools say on military’s claims that communists are recruiting students

The AFP later on admitted that what they had against the schools was unverified information.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao called out the military’s red-tagging as “malicious,” saying that it implicates the youth.

Youth groups have similarly condemned the red-tagging as well since it suggested a prelude to a state-sanctioned crackdown against activists in schools.