President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to bomb Lumad schools allegedly teaching students to become communist rebels and under rebel control without government permits.
“Get out of there, I’m telling the Lumads now. I’ll have those bombed, including your structures,” Duterte said.
“I will use the armed forces, the Philippine air force. I’ll really have those bombed … because you are operating illegally and you are teaching the children to rebel against government.” He added
The president also lamented that the communist guerillas are operating the lumad schools without being duly accredited by the Department of Education (DepEd)
“They’re operating without the Department of Education’s permit kasi eskwelahan nila (because their schools)…they’re teaching subversion, communism, lahat-lahat na (everything),” Duterte said.
Duterte issued the threat at a press conference minutes after his State of the Nation Address, in which he vowed to continue his “war on drugs,” a murderous campaign in which the police and their agents have killed thousands of suspected drug dealers and users in cold blood. His tirade against “subversive” schools that teach indigenous Lumad children came after he declared an end to the peace negotiations with the Communist New People’s Army (NPA), which has been waging a Maoist insurgency for nearly five decades and, according to the government, has made tribal areas in the countryside its base of operations.
On Tuesday, Malacanang clarified that Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools in Mindanao was aimed at protecting the youth from any form of activities that promote insurgency.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement that the President sought to caution anyone in “strongest terms” not to engage the youth in hostile acts.
“The President notes that certain Lumad/ indigenous schools are being used to foment rebellion against the government,” Abella said.
“[Duterte] warns them in the strongest terms to discontinue these actions; persistence will warrant appropriate government action,” he added.
Hundreds of Lumads joined the protest action during Duterte’s Sona in hopes that their pleas, including the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, would reach him.