The group Pasaka denied accusations that the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (Salugpongan) administrators did not acquire the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) before putting up the schools.
In an interview, Jong Monzon, the secretary general of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Mindanao, said the accusation is both baseless and malicious.
“We have complied the free, informed, and prior consent before we enter the communities,” he said. “This just means that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, especially (National Security Adviser Hermogenes) Esperon, is just looking for loopholes to pin on us.”
But Monzon’s claim is refuted by another Lumad leader, Datu Joel Unad, chair of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders and Leaders (MIPCEL).
“The basic for us is the proper coordination with the IP Leaders. This means they have to get the free, prior and informed consent. They can’t put up any development or institution without the FPIC,” said Unad at the sidelines of the Pre-Sona event at the SMX Convention Center Wednesday.
“This FPIC is facilitated by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,” he added.
Meanwhile, Esperon, also in the Pre-Sona event, maintained his stance that Salugpongan schools are the breeding ground of rebel groups.
“One of the characteristics of Salugpongan is that they don’t have the Learner’s Reference Number. If you don’t have the LRN, how are you supposed to be promoted to the higher grade? This just means that they are now the property of the NPA,” Esperon said.
Monzon, meanwhile, said the show cause order is just a ploy to close down the schools.
“The administrators in Salugpongan have always complied with the requirements. So, we were really shocked when Esperon issued the complaint mandating the Department of Education for the closure of the Salugpongan schools,” he said.
Monzon said the show cause order of the Department of Education with a deadline of just five days is a malicious intent to intimidate the Lumads (it was extended to 10 days –ed).
“We are complying with the show cause but we would like to tell them that it is really unfair that after 12 years of operation, we are just given five days to comply. Where is justice in that case? We would like to tell the people that the government is giving injustice to Lumad instead of helping us,” Monzon said.