Philippines: End attacks against indigenous teachers, students and schools

published 27 July 2017 updated 3 August 2017

Education International has called on its member organisations to condemn the continuous harassment and attacks against students, teachers and human rights activists of the Lumad indigenous communities on Mindanao island in the Philippines.

Persecution of indigenous teachers and human rights activists, attacks against indigenous schools

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), one of Education International (EI) affiliates in the Philippines, has reported attacks against 68 different schools in Mindanao by military and paramilitary forces in the past year. The occupation and destruction of school premises violates the right to education of thousands of Lumad children.

Three Lumad education activists were killed in 2017: Emelito Rotimas, killed on 6 February, and Leonila Tapsadan and Ramon Dagaas Pesadilla, killed on 2 March. The ACT is also concerned about the continued detention of 64 year-old teacher Amelia Pond, a researcher from an indigenous community learning centre who was arrested in Cebu City on 19 August 2016 on unfounded charges.

According to ACT, the persecution of indigenous teachers and human rights activists, and attacks against indigenous schools have been labelled “counter-insurgency operations” by successive Philippine governments, as a means of silencing critics. These attacks have worsened after the declaration of martial law.

Education International sent a protest letter to President Duterte who publicly called for airstrikes against Lumad schools “who teach children to rebel against the government” on 24 July.

It also invited the Government of the Philippines to endorse the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, an intergovernmental instrument to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from attacks.

Urgent Action Appeal

Through its urgent action appeal dated 26 July, EI urged all its member organisations to take immediate action:

•             Send a protest letter to President Rodrigo Duterte and relevant authorities in the Philippines (see model letter);

•             Contact your Government and the diplomatic representation of the Philippines in your country, requesting a dialogue on these issues with the Filipino authorities;

•             Release public statements condemning the attacks against the Lumad education communities in Mindanao; and give visibility to this situation on your social media.