DAVAO CITY – Bro. Armin Luistro, secretary of the Department of Education is yet to receive a copy of the administrative case filed by indigenous people students and teachers along with their support groups.

In a text message to Davao Today Wednesday, Sec. Luistro said “I have not received a copy of their administrative case but if and when we do, I will respond directly to the Ombudsman’s office on the charges.”

However, Sec. Luistro said “as a matter of policy and in deference to the Ombudsman, we do not publicize our reply while the case is pending.”

An administrative complaint against Luistro was filed before the Ombudsman office in Quezon City.

Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network Mindanao, said that Secretary Luistro “have violated several laws to protect children through the issuance and continued implementation of DepEd Memorandum 221.”

Enclosed in the DepEd’s memorandum or the “Guidelines on the Protection of Children During Armed Conflict”, is the Army’s “Guidelines in the Conduct of their Activities Inside or Within a School or Hospital” which is “a guide for all members of the AFP before they can conduct their activities inside the premises of public elementary and secondary schools to ensure that rights of the children are not violated.”

But the Save Our Schools Network said they gathered “around 400 documented and reported cases of attacks on both Lumad and government-run schools in Mindanao.”

“Military aggression in schools, in the form of military encampment, threat, harassment and intimidation, vilification among teachers and students, and incidents of destruction of school property, had intensified and rose in number after the issuance and implementation of the Department of Education Memorandum 221,” said Valle.

Valle said the DepEd Memo 221 “legitimizes military presence in schools.”

For his part, Sec. Luistro said the memorandum “provides our schools with very clear guidelines on ensuring that schools are not used as places for military activity by any group except for those that are explicitly provided by the memo and limited by those parameters.”

“It gives the department power to make our administrators accountable in case there are infractions,” he said.

Based on the complaint Sec. Luistro “may be served with summons and court processes, of violation of Article X, Section 22 of R.A. No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) and Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) as well as Article 13, numbers 1 and 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 28, number 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

The complaint also includes the filing of an administrative complaint against Luistro for “Gross Misconduct, Grave Abuse of Authority, Gross Oppression and for Conduct Unbecoming of a Public Officer”.

“We gave him two years to revoke the memo. We lobbied and held dialogues with his department several times before we gave him a three-day ultimatum. This administrative case is long overdue, we demand full accountability of Sec. Luistro for his transgressions and neglect thereof,” said Valle.

Valle added that Luistro didn’t just ignore the calls of Lumad children to revoke DepEd Memo 221 and to stop military attacks on schools, he became instrumental in the perpetration of military attacks on schools all over Mindanao.

“We have already lost a teacher and many Lumad leaders, we will not wait until we lose another one. We resolve to continue defending Lumad schools and dedicate our efforts to ensure that Pres. Aquino and Sec. Luistro be held accountable for these attacks against our schools and our people,” Valle said.

On September 1, Emerito Samarca, administrator of the Alternative Learning Center for Education and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) in Surigao del Sur was killed along with two other tribal leaders who are known anti-mining advocates in the community.

The complaint was lodged by representatives of different Lumad schools and organizations in Mindanao after a three-day camp-out of 200 Lumad and other support groups in front of the Department of Education National Office in Pasig City from November 9-11. (davaotoday.com)

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