The similarities end at state-sponsored violence.
“What is dramatic is the ongoing militarization in Mindanao. They are attacking the schools and communities of our Indigenous people,” Valbuena said in an interview.
Because of a Department of Education memorandum that allows military activity inside schools, some have been converted into barracks and camps, said Valbuena. The number of human rights abuses against teachers, administrators and students has thus gone up dramatically.
On September 1, a teacher at an indigenous school in Mindanao, and two union activists, were shot dead by members of a paramilitary armed group—political assassinations widely regarded as part of a U.S.-modeled counterinsurgency program of the Aquino government.
Valbuena thanked CUPE for its worker-to-worker solidarity with (ACT) and its efforts to help build grassroots unionism in the Philippines’ education sector. ACT is now seeking international assistance in pressuring the Aquino government to rescind the memorandum.
“I am very glad that when I spoke two days ago, I really found that people are very interested. They are listening to the plight of Filipino teachers,” he said.