Palaw’an indigenous peoples (IPs) in Rizal town are pleading to the provincial government to finish the construction of their elementary school, citing difficulties both students and teachers face every day due to incomplete facilities.
According to tribal leader Narlito Silnay, Kadulan Elementary School in Barangay Panalingaan has not been completed since it began construction in 2017 and is in danger of becoming even more dilapidated because of exposure to the elements. Only two out of four rooms are complete, and the two rooms do not have doors or windows.
“Ang project na ito ay mula sa provincial Special Education Fund noong 2017. Nagsimula ang construction noong July 2017. Binalikan ito ng contractor noong January 2021, pero umalis sila noong January 2022, hinakot na ang mga gamit,” Silnay said in an interview on Saturday.
“Kapag nasira [ang kisame], bumagsak ito, hindi na namin mapapakinabangan ito,” he added.
Silnay added that a total of 169 IP students attend the school, as it is the closest to their community. He added that the school lacks basic structures such as a handwashing station and electricity. He added that they are also calling for the construction of a new Grade 5 and 6 building, which is currently made up of light materials and without a floor. He explained that the school’s teacher-in-charge (TIC) also took out a loan to fund the construction.
“Sana ay matulungan din kami sa building na ito. Kasi magbi-brigada eskwela na, pero ganito pa rin. Mabuti na ang TIC naming dito, masipag, nag-loan siya para mabuo ang building na ito,” Silnay added.
Silnay said that IP students in Kadulan still cannot hold face-to-face classes due to low vaccination rates in their community. He added aside from help from the government, they are also welcoming help from the private sector to fast-track the building’s construction.
PGP vows to complete school by end of April
After Palawan News sought comment from the provincial government, information officer Atty. Christian Jay Cojamco said that the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) is targeting to visit Kadulan this week and attend to the school’s needs.
“Nag-commit sila [Provincial Engineering Officer] na by the end of the month, palalagyan ng bintana ang classroom. As for electricity, in-inform tayo na walang linya ng PALECO doon. Mayroong solar panels na nauna doon, but walang kasama sa budget na solar panels,” Cojamco said through a call on Tuesday.
When asked what will be done to the additional two classrooms that were built through a loan obtained by the school’s teacher-in-charge, Cojamco stated that this will be done only if there are funds left.
“As of now, kapag may natira raw sa Special Education Fund then may request para sa school. Meron naman pero as of now wala pang planned after the project,” he added in a separate message through Facebook.