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More proof expected for closure of IP schools

The body that is investigating the presence of schools in indigenous communities, so-called Salugpongan schools, is strengthening its case of pushing for the closure of these schools by gathering more proof that these are being used by rebels to recruit members.

At the AFP-PNP press briefing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Military Operations deputy chief and member of the congressional inquiry on the schools, said the case of closing these schools has also been strengthened with the support of the tribal chieftains on the move.

He said the congressional body decided to pursue the inquiry, despite the move of the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives to postpone it, to eventually ferret out the truth as tribal leaders have denied the contention of the Left that these have been helping the indigenous communities.

What the body initially found out was that the way of teaching of these schools was different from mainstream schools and that they are instruments in the recruitment activities of the rebels.

Other members of the body are the Department of Education, National Commission of Indigenous People, Department of Interior and Local government , Philippine National Police, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Indigenous Concerns.

“All agencies concerned in the Salugpongan issue were brought there (to the schools) so that they would know (the truth about them) even as the Makabayan bloc did not show up (to join the group),” he said.
Among the schools that they visited was the one in Talaingod, a town in Davao del Norte which has a sizeable population of indigenous people.

The government is planning to close the school as well as prevent groups from funding its existence because of the report that the rebels were using it to recruit members.

Datu George Mandahay, Matigsalog tribal chieftain, said he was among those who went to the school in Sitio Kahusayan Barangay Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District on Tuesday.

Mandahay said residents of the place have called on for the permanent closure of the school as they have vowed not to send their children. He said the children were brainwashed so they would believe the cause of the rebels.

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