DIATAGON Lianga, Surigao del Sur–Displaced Manobo children now seeking refuge in nearby hinterland communities here may return home when the tension will be cleared with no more tribal learning center to attend during the school opening in June.
A military initiated effort to build a new makeshift public school in Sitio Simowao will be built to replace the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (Trifpss) community learning center which Army officials tag as influenced by the communist New Peoples Army rebels.
Classes in the Trifpss school have been disrupted after residents fled their homes, fearing the escalation of hostilities between government troops and communist rebels in the area.
Residents of the subvillages (sitio) of Simowao and Emerald in Barangay Diatagon sought refuge in sitios of Kilometer 16, Han-ayan and Kabulohan, about 7 km away, after an M203 grenade was fired in one of the houses at Sitio Emerald, wounding a 5-year-old girl and two others
Among the evacuees were four teachers and 62 students of Simowao Community Learning Center, a lumad school operated by Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) in Lianga.
The teachers said they were forced to leave the school for the safety of the children.
Bishop Raul Dael of Tandag City Diocese however will seek a dialogue with the Department of Education (DepEd) regional officials to appeal to them to allow the continued operation of Trfpps schools in the Manobo hinterland communities and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (Alcadev), a secondary alternative learning school in Sitio Han-ayan.
He expressed apprehension that teaching method of the public tribal school might not be appropriate to the Manobo culture.
“”This can be just a blueprint from the DepEd central office without truly repecting their culture,” Dael said in an interview.
The Diocese’s Bishop Emeritus Nereo Odchimar has also called to sustain the schools which taught the children and students with holistic curricula that produced quality graduates with high equivalency rating.
“Why insist building a new tribal school when there is already Trifpps,” Odchimar asked in an interview.
But the 3rd Special Forces Battalion in a press statement stood pat that the construction of new public schools in Sitio Simowao and in Sitio Lucnudon in Marihatag town which will be completed before the classes starts in June was approved by DepEd to replace the Trifpss schools which will be closed for failure to comply with the DepEd requirements and for having no permit to operate as an Alternative Learning School.
An ocular inspection of the proposed school site was held on March 2 attended by DepEd Caraga Regional Director Francis Cesar Bringas, Surigao del Sur Gov. Alexander Pimentel, who chairs the Regional Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) and Bayugan City Mayor Kirk Asis, Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairman on Social Development.
The 3rd Special Forces d” Battalion and the 544th Engineer Construction Battalion will provide the manpower and equipment once the funds and operational expenses are available.
The makeshift school’s architectural and engineering plan and design options, program of works from the 544th Engineering Battalion and the complied documentary requirements and proposed timeline for implementation were presented by Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan , 3rd SF Battalion Commander, to the visiting officials. 3SFBn covers the area of Lianga and Marihatag.
Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales, Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of at the town council of Lianga, said the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) schools will start construction works on March 23.
But town councilor Samuel Dollano, who chairs the council education committee, revealed the proposed IPED schools oushed by Bucales was never approved during their sessions since December.
He said they never supported Bucales’ resolution because they need assessment if the operation of public IPED schools run by the government will sustain. He cited a case in point of the government-run IPED schools in San Miguel town which holds irregular classes.