Charges filed against 7 arrested in Lumad ‘rescue’ ops

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | February 17,2021 - 06:44 PM

Charges have been filed by the police against the seven individuals who were arrested during last Monday’s “rescue” of Lumads in a retreat house in Talamban, Cebu City. | Photo from NUPL-Cebu

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Seven individuals, including three indigenous people who were arrested during the ‘rescue’ operation involving Lumads last Monday, February 15 in Brgy. Talamban, Cebu City are now facing charges.

This after the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) confirmed on Wednesday, February 17, that they have already lodged the cases before the Davao Del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

Chad Booc, Jomar Binag, Moddie Mansumoy-at, Segundo Melong, Esmilito Oribawan, Benito Bay-ao, and Roshelle Mae Porcadilla were named as respondents. They are still detained in Camp Sergio Osmeña, the headquarters of PRO-7.

Complaints of kidnapping and serious illegal detention (Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code), violations of the Anti-Child Abuse Law (Republic Act No. 7610), and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA No. 9208) were filed against the accused, said PRO-7 director Police Brigadier General Ronnie Montejo.

“So far, in our assessment, our cases are strong. Our evidence is also,” said Montejo in Cebuano.

The accused on Wednesday also underwent online inquest proceedings, their camp, represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers in Cebu (NUPL-Cebu), said.

Lawyer King Anthony Perez, spokesperson of NUPL-Cebu, however, said they are yet to receive an official copy of the complaints and that they were only informed of charges in relation to kidnapping and illegal detention from the prosecution.

“We won’t be making any comments (on the) merits (of the cases) until we receive the formal complaints,” Perez told members of the media in a message.

In the meantime, Perez said on Wednesday they will file a manifestation requesting for a preliminary investigation as their clients decided to waive Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code which pertains to delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.

He also said their camp requested provisions such as food and clothing for the detainees whose stay in the police’s detention cells will be prolonged.

On Monday, 26 Lumads, including 19 minors, were escorted out of a retreat house owned by priests from the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) Philippines Southern Province inside the Talamban campus of the University of San Carlos (USC) by police and state social workers.

Police said the children were being indoctrinated and exploited by Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogan, a group that operates schools for lumad children in Mindanao areas where there are no regular schools and are being used to generate attendance in anti-government protest rallies.

But organizers from Save Our Schools (SOS) Network Cebu and priests and executives from USC denied allegations that the Lumads were used for militant and leftist activities.

They said the Lumads were housed as part of the ‘bakwit school’ program to help displaced indigenous people from war-torn areas in Mindanao further their studies in safer places.

Other government agencies, particularly the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7), have also intervened to conduct their own investigations on the matter.

Montejo, on the other hand, said local governments both from Davao Del Norte and Cebu City have provided assistance for the Lumads’ return to Mindanao.

“Hopefully, by next week, if all requirements are complete, they can finally return home,” said Montejo. /rcg

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TAGS: 7 arrested, Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, Anti-Child Abuse Law, Cebu City, Davao Del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, kidnapping, lumads, Police Brigadier General Ronnie Montejo, rescue operation, serious illegal detention

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