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Good afternoon Mr. Secretary-General Hoi, delegates, ladies and gentlemen. It is truly a
great pleasure to be a young ASEAN advocacy for Global Education and Literacy. I am
very proud to stand here and to raise my voice for every girl and boy who are forced to
stay silent. I speak on behalf of the dreams of hundreds and thousands of children of
my country and the world who were deprived of their right to be educated.

Let me tell you a little story. My friend once asked me the same question she answered
for her interview. “Is education a right or a privilege” I answered “Every child has a
right to have the best education according to our constitution and the government tries
their very best to provide this basic civil right. Education is like an open door that is free
for everyone who wants it and the reason why people do not have access to education is
not about the money but because it is their choice not to study.” I know, that sounds
very privileged for a man who studies in one of the best private universities in my
country. Education in Asia and other parts of the world is a privilege that only the rich
can have. If you do not have money, you cannot afford to study even in public school
that claims that it is free for all citizens. You need money to afford even a hand-out
book or a uniform. There is also a shortage in rooms and an imbalance teacher-student
ratio. Our education system is failing and we have failed the sons and daughters of our
countries. The marginalized youth of the Philippines, especially indigenous people
struggles not just in their everyday lives, but in finding a school that will accept them
and will them help explore the world through the magic of books and learning from a
teacher. According to Rappler, 9 out of 10 Lumad children have no access to education.
Public schools near their tribes are still not accessible for them that even if they are
hungry for knowledge, they just spend their time to find ways on how they will feed
their hungry bodies.

Some people in my country built an alternative school for indigenous children. They
provide free education called Bakwit schools for Lumad children by teaching them not
just academics but agriculture and health. They are also taught to love and serve the
masses and to fulfill their duty as a Filipino patriot. This education system surely
helped a lot of indigenous children mostly in Mindanao. It opened opportunities for
these children and another hope for a brighter tomorrow. Notwithstanding, The
military under martial law in Mindanao displaced at least 70 out of 228 schools. The
Philippine Department of Education together with the National Security Council also
ordered the temporary shutdown of 55 schools owned by Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu
Igkanogon Community Learning Centers. Why? The government thinks that the school
officials made it mandatory for the children to join anti-government rally like the CPP-
NPA. Last year, Philippine President threatened to bomb Lumad schools because for
him, it is an act of socialism.