Lumad schools urged to secure required permits to operate

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 12 urged operators of Lumad (indigenous peoples) schools in the region to secure proper permits so they could continue to operate.

The agency issued the advisory in the wake of the continuing protests by non-government organizations over the closure last year of two Lumad schools in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

Around 60 protesters, including Lumad students and parents, have encamped since last week in front of the DepEd-12 regional office in Barangay Carpenter Hill in Koronadal City, as they called for the immediate reopening of their schools.

Antonio Maganto, DepEd-12 public information officer, reiterated that the agency is not against the operations of indigenous peoples' schools in any part of Region 12 or Soccsksargen.

But he said the agency cannot act on the matter unless the operators of the Lumad schools submit the requirements for the issuance of necessary permits.

He was referring to the cases of the schools operated by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (Mispi) in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and by the Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking Services (Clans) in Barangay Hinalaan in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

The schools, which were accused by the military of being backed by the New People’s Army (NPA), were closed by concerned local government units due to the lack of permits from DepEd, he said.

Maganto said the concerned groups operating the Lumad schools were not able to complete the required documents for the release of their permits-to-operate.

“We can only issue the permits if they would be able to process and complete all the requirements,” he said in a radio interview. 

Timothy Romero, spokesperson of the protesters, told reporters that they had properly complied with and repeatedly submitted the requirements set by DepEd.

But he said they were told to come back a number of times supposedly due to incomplete documents.

Among those required by the agency was Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, which takes a long time to process with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

“Because these schools can’t get their permits, they were unfairly branded as being run by the NPA,” Romero said. (PNA)