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DepEd XI strengthens IPs education, vows to prevent exploitation

THE DEPARTMENT of Education (DepEd) XI is taking proactive measures to safeguard Indigenous People’s (IP) education and prevent the exploitation of children in schools. 

For instance, the agency is closely scrutinizing applications from schools formerly associated with a communist terrorist group (CTG).

 “We have IP school coordinators and division coordinators tasked with this responsibility to ensure that our children are not abused,” Jenielito Atillo, DepEd XI spokesperson, said.

In 2019, DepEd XI shut down 55 Salugpungan schools due to alleged irregularities and connections to the communist rebel movement. 

Atillo reiterated the department’s determination not to repeat such a situation.

“We are strengthening our IP education programs and urging other government agencies to fulfill their roles in protecting IPs, who are particularly vulnerable to abuse,” Atillo said. He stressed the importance of a whole-of-nation approach to address this issue, even as the threat may seem less imminent than in previous years.

Major Salvacion Evangelista, the new spokesperson for Eastern Mindanao Command, affirmed the military’s commitment to protecting IPs and preventing their recruitment into the NPA. 

While she did not provide specific details on current monitoring efforts, she emphasized the military’s role in ensuring the safety and well-being of the IP community.

Captain Hazel Tuazon, spokesperson for the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), highlighted the ongoing Revitalized Pulis Sa Barangay program, which collaborated with DepEd to establish two schools in Marilog. 

“We need to strengthen this initiative and continue supporting our IP brothers and sisters, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas,” Tuazon said.

Davao Light and Power Company’s Fermin Edillon also shared their commitment to supporting education in off-grid IP communities.

The company plans to provide solar systems to power televisions and computers donated by DepEd in areas that are difficult to reach.

Atillo concluded by stating that while DepEd XI is working tirelessly to protect IP education, the cooperation of other government agencies and continued vigilance are crucial to prevent the resurgence of any threats to IP children’s well-being.

File Photo: Bing Gonzales


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