MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday said it did not order the closure of any school serving indigenous peoples in the Davao region.
In a statement, DepEd belied a recent claim that "a Salugpongan learning center in the region was closed" down upon its orders.
"DepEd Region XI reports further that the tribal leaders of an IP community in Talaingod, Davao del Norte held a press conference morning of December 3 and stated that the closure of a Salugpongan learning center was a community decision supported by a resolution issued by the IP community council," it said.
The department said it "continuously recognizes and supports the valuable contribution of non-government and community-led institutions" in improving access to culture-based basic education.
"DepEd puts a premium on the process of dialogue as it has been one of the core foundations of our work with IP communities," it said.
"The Department continues to dialogue with the communities concerned and key stakeholders, and takes succeeding steps guided by the commitment to arrive at decisions that are in the best interest of the IP learners’ education."
The DepEd made the statement after former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro and several others were arrested for allegedly bringing minors out of Talaingod, Davao del Norte. They have since posted bail.
Ocampo had said they were bringing food and other supplies to the Salugpongan school for Lumad children. He said paramilitary troops were blocking supplies for the students and teachers there.
"Nagkaroon ng communication 'yung teachers sa Salugpongan, humihingi sila ng tulong. Nag-quick reaction kami, in-organize 'yung mission na parang rescue or salubungin at i-safety 'yung mga pinalabas na teachers and students," Ocampo said.
(The teachers in Salugpongan communicated with us, they were asking for our help. We did a quick-reaction (operation), we organized something like a rescue mission to welcome the teachers and students who were forced out and bring them to safety.)
-- With reports from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News