DEPED-RUN SCHOOL. The former Salugpongan Ta' Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. school in Sitio Cambudlot, Barangay San Miguel, Compostela town in Davao de Oro is now replaced with a Department of Education-run learning facility. Completed on March 23, 2022, the two-classroom building is worth PHP2.5 million. (Photo courtesy of Davao de Oro PIO)

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) has taken control of a former tribal school whose management is hounded by links with communist rebel movement, replacing its makeshift classroom with a modern building worth PHP2.5 million.

In a statement Tuesday, the Davao de Oro provincial government said the two-classroom tribal school in Barangay San Miguel, Compostela municipality, was completed on March 23 and is now under the DepEd management.

The school used to be operated by the controversial Salugpongan Ta' Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI), which is affiliated with the Save Our School Network.

STTICLCI and SOS are accused by the military and the police of being controlled by the communist New People's Army (NPA), using the tribal schools to promote armed rebellion and as recruitment centers for the rebels.

Former teachers and learners have come out to support the allegations, with no less than the secretary general of the "Pasakaday Salugpongan Kalimodan" (PASAKA), Jong Monzon, admitting that NPA-linked tribal schools are being used by the rebels to raise funds for anti-government activities.

Monzon, himself an NPA fighter, surrendered to authorities in Boston town, Davao Oriental, on March 8.

According to the Davao del Oro provincial government, the school was completed through its "Bayanihan Sa Paaralan" program.

In January this year, the provincial government led a campaign to convert NPA-linked tribal schools into DepEd-accredited schools with proper budgets.

Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy said Brgy. San Miguel in Compostela became one of the first "Bayanihan" program recipients after the village council sought help through a resolution.

Sitio Cambudlot in Brgy. San Miguel, where the school is located, is the last geographically isolated and disadvantaged area (GIDA) in the province to receive a school building, Uy said.

“I’m very happy to say that I will step down as a governor with a fulfilled heart. I have established schools in GIDAs and this is what we dreamed of,” he said.

The school is equipped with armchairs, teachers' desks, blackboards, wall fans, and toilets to ensure a conducive learning environment.

Uy also attributed the success of the project to the "whole of nation approach" Oplan Pagbabago- End Local Communist Armed Conflict, with the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Revitalized Pulis sa Barangay program of the Philippine National Police.

Meanwhile, DepEd Division chief Ruben Reponte thanked the provincial government for supporting the education sector to provide IP children equal opportunity to "achieve a bright future." (PNA)