March 7, 2018

The Department of Education (DepEd) vehemently condemns the storming of its gates by groups purportedly championing the cause of farmers from Northern Samar on March 7, Wednesday.

The demonstration, which decried the alleged bombing of schools and military encampment in the elementary and secondary schools of Las Navas municipality, forced past the gates of the Department and turned disruptive as some of the more or less 30 protesters attempted to advance to the doors of the Rizal Building.

Similarly, the Department denounces the unwarranted claim of People Surge, ACT, BAYAN, and SAGUPA-SB that DepEd is “complicit” to the supposed occupation of schools by armed troops.

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones herself relentlessly advocates – nationally and internationally – for the protection of learners, teachers, and all learning institutions from armed conflicts and all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, and exploitation.

Meanwhile, report from DepEd Region VIII revealed that there was no military encampment in schools as the 78th Infantry Battalion of the 8thInfantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and a Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Detachment are situated far from Rubas Elementary School and Villa Elementary School, respectively.

The same report disclosed that some military personnel promptly left after helping secure the delivery of computer units to Las Navas National High School. Allegations of landmine scattered on school grounds will have to be verified by experts.

Foremost of the Secretary’s campaign is the reinforcement of DepEd’s long-standing commitment of maintaining the neutrality of schools through DepEd Order No. 44, s. 2005 (DO 44), or the Declaration of Schools as Zones of Peace.

Subsequently, the issuance of DepEd Order No. 57, s. 2017 (DO 57), or the Policy on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict, reaffirmed the Secretary and the Department’s recognition of the child’s right to education and its role in strengthening the protection of both learners and personnel during armed conflict.

DepEd, as a member of the Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Armed Conflict (IAC-CIAC), is mandated to endorse verified cases of violation to the committee and in no way shall it condone any act that puts its learners and personnel at risk.