A LUMAD educator has slammed the government’s “lack of political will” toward the indigenous peoples’ right to education.

Miguel Ramil, chairman of the Association of Community Educators in Mindanao, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has so far failed to address the education concerns of the Lumad, the indigenous people of Mindanao.

“Ang gobyernong ito ay walang political will sa pagbigay o sa pagtustos o pagtugon sa kanyang tungkulin sa basic services [tulad ng edukasyon],” Ramil said in an forum last Oct. 27 at the Engineering Conference Hall.

The Lumad are forced to build alternative schools to sustain their communities’ education, he claimed.

Ramil blamed the presence of “paramilitary forces” in Mindanao that have marked Lumad schools and learning centers as training grounds for rebels, which, he said, heightened during the “Oplan Bayanihan” under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

Paramilitary groups allegedly served as the previous administration’s means to suppress Lumad resistance against large-scale mining in their ancestral lands.

Ramil called on Thomasians to take part in Lumad community integration to witness the indigenous people’s situation firsthand and help them fight for their rights to education and life.

“Naniniwala ako na ang edukasiyon ang tanging susi upang mabuksan ang kamalayan nating mga Pilipino, lalo na sa aking mga kapwa Lumad,” Ramil said.

National Union of Students of the Philippines spokesman Kevin Castro urged students to maximize the academe as an “extended forum” in aiding the Lumads.

The event, titled “Dialogue for Life: Just Peace for All,” was held in celebration of the National Indigenous People Month, composed of a series of events spearheaded by the UST Community Achievers Association Central Council.

The project was a collaboration between the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, UST Rotaract Club – Pharmacy Unit, UST Unicef Volunteers, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UST Chapter, Musikang Sikat ng mga Tomasino, UST Comach Local Units, Kabayanihan Youth, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Kadumahan.


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