Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fate of Salugpungan schools in DepEd-11’s hands

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 1, 2019): Fate of Salugpungan schools in DepEd-11’s hands

SALUGPUNGAN DECISION. Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Alberto Escobarte said Tuesday (July 30, 2019) that DepEd-11 has been given sole authority to decide whether the tribal schools managed by Salugpungan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers Inc. will be allowed to continue operating or not. (PNA Photo by Che Palicte)

DAVAO CITY -- The decision to lift the suspension -- or even total revocation -- of the license to operate of the controversial Salugpungan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers Inc. (STICLCI) rests solely on the Department of Education-Region 11 (DepEd-11), an official said Tuesday.

Education Assistant Secretary Alberto Escobarte said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones has already granted the regional DepEd office jurisdiction and authority to decide on the case.

Escobarte added that only DepEd-11 has the competence to decide on the case as it is the one handling the evidence and other pertinent documents relating to the issues hounding STICLCI schools.

On July 22, the extended deadline for the show cause order was granted to the Salugpungan school administrators to answer the allegations made by National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon.

Based on the testimonies of former STICLCI students and teachers, Esperon said Salugpungan schools are being used by the communist New People's Army (NPA) as training and recruitment centers. Esperon's findings prompted Dep-Ed 11 to suspend 55 Salugpungan schools in Region 11.

DepEd-11 earlier said STICLCI executive director Ma. Eugenia Nolasco managed to submit a response to the show cause order directing the school system to answer the allegations.

Nolasco, Escobarte said, "should rebut all the findings of Secretary Esperon and a certain Loyod.”

He was referring to former Salugpungan teacher Melvin Loyod who executed an affidavit claiming that Salugpungan learners were taught with rebellion tactics against the government.

Loyod was assigned to a Salungponan school in Sitio Pongpong, Barangay Sto. Niño Talaingod, Davao del Norte, which has since been stopped operating following clamor from local authorities and tribal leaders who alleged that the school was teaching their learners NPA ideologies.

Escobarte assured that the evidence against STICLCI schools are being examined by a committee, whose findings will become the basis for the DepEd-11 decision.

“If in case the result will not be favorable to these schools, they can immediately write a letter of appeal to Secretary Briones,” he added.

Asked on the timeline of the STICLCI ruling, Escobarte said that it will come out "anytime soon."

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