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IP, DEpEd schools join hands vs NPA recruitment

LIANGA, Surigao del Sur–Indigenous Peoples (IP) schools and the Department of Education (DepEd) have forge an agreement here not to allow its students from joining communist-linked activities.

Two IP DepEd makeshift schools in Sitio Simowao Diatagon, Lianga and Sitio Lucnodon, Mahaba Marihatag in Surigao del Sur are now completed and ready for use upon the resumption of classes in October.

These schools, according to reports, will provide quality education and will replace the communist-linked Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao Del Sur (TRIFPSS) to prevent radicalization and NPA recruitment of IP youth.

The IP schools are part of the tangible peace development programs of the CARAGA Regional Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) spearheaded by Surigao Sur Provincial Governor and Regional Peace and Order Committee Chairman Alexander T. Pimentel, Regional Development Council-Social Development Committee (RDC-SDC) Chairman and Bayugan City Mayor Kirk A. Asis, DepEd Regional Office XIII Director Francis Cesar B. Bringas, the IP Tribal Councils and Local Government Units (LGU) of Marihatag and Lianga.

The 544th Engineer Battalion under LTC Rodel V. Pangilinan CE GSC PA served as the workforce while the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion under LTC Joey B Baybayan INF GSC PA set the groundwork and security through the conduct of Community Support Program (CSP), one of the mechanisms of the Whole of Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

“Contrary to the false reports that we are closing IP schools in Surigao, the DepEd Province of Surigao del Sur worked hard in opening DepEd IP schools to provide quality education. We did not really focus on closing the alleged NPA terrorist-linked TRIFPSS or ALCADEV schools. Rather, we put our time and efforts to lay the foundation in building DepEd schools so that our IP community can have an option. Fortunately, the IPs have chosen to enroll in our schools as this is their request to have DepEd accredited IP schools in their communities.” DepEd Provincial Superintendent Josita Carmen said.

Lianga Tribal Chieftain, Datu Constancio Duhac, along with tribal and sitio leaders said, “We refute and we can prove, without blurring our faces, that militant group MAPASU, Save Our Schools are spreading fake news saying that the government and the military are abusing the IP community. This is what we are working for, to build ‘genuine IP schools’ for our children to stop NPA terrorists’ exploitation and recruitment. This is what the tribe dreamt of and we thank the government for fulfilling it.”

Lianga IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR), Jumar Bucales (Datu Nahikyad) said that Communist NPA Terrorist and its allies are working so hard to discredit the government efforts through their propaganda in various platforms of social media.

“If they are genuine enough (MAPASU and Save Our Schools), they should have joined and helped the legitimate the IP leaders like us in our efforts to bring hope to our children instead of attacking us and accusing us  as paramilitary. We will not allow MAPASU, Save Our Schools and their cohorts from exploiting our children again,” Bucales said.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), ELCAC member agencies led by Secretary Allen Capuyan, with the IP children and parents, Marihatag and Lianga LGUs held the first ceremonial flag raisings in the newly constructed IP schools on August 24 in Sitio Simuwao and Sept 1 in Sitio Lucnodon respectively.

Meanwhile, the Surigao Sur DepEd Provincial Office mulls a systematic and practical approach to provide quality education to cope up despite the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are working on a practical approach for the continuous delivery of IP Education despite the pandemic and the new normal in the hinterlands and we will propose it to the IATF,” DepEd SurSur Superintendent Josita Carmen, said. (PR)

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