Davao peace council seeks closure of 11 NPA-linked schools

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Davao City
 — The City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) has formally asked the Department of Education to revoke the permits of at least 11 tribal schools previously linked to the communist guerrilla movement.

CPOC requested DepEd Secretary Leonor Mirasol M. Briones to cancel the permit to operate and the certificate of recognition granted to 11 far-flung tribal schools here, according to a transmittal made by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) dated March 19.

The schools in question belong to the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) and the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy, which have previously been linked by authorities to communist fronts and the New People’s Army (NPA).

The CPOC resolution — issued in December last year — said the 11 schools lacked “learner’s reference number for them to be officially enrolled in the DepEd electronic information system.”

CPOC said this means the enrollees in the 11 schools “will have to go back to grade 1 if they will enroll in any DepEd public school regardless of what grade level they are in.”

The military had earlier singled out the schools run by STTICLC and MISFI as being used by the NPA to spread its ideology. These even reportedly served as the recruitment and training ground of the rebel movement.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Salungpongan schools in the Davao Region were caught in a storm of controversy late last year after former Bayan Muna lawmaker Satur Ocampo and 72 others were arrested by police in a checkpoint operation in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on November 28.

They were charged with kidnapping and other cases when they were found transporting 14 minors who are Salugpungan students on their way to Talaingod town for a supposed fact-finding mission.

A month before that, a group of tribesmen headed by Lipatuan Unad, chairman of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Coalition for Cultural, Justice, and Integrity, visited the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame to seek protection from NPA.

The tribesmen claimed that the rebels are forcibly recruiting Lumad to join the NPA.

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