SOS to DSWD: Take up custody of ‘seized’ Lumad children
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Take custody of the Lumad children “seized” by police in a so-called “rescue operations” last February 15, 2021.
This was the appeal of the Save Our School Network (SOSN) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) three days after the police raided a Cebu City university’s retreat house resulting in the “rescue” of 26 Lumads including minors. The minors are currently under police custody.
“We think it’s high time for you to step up and take custody of the minors from the police. Ever since the fake rescue, the minors have been hidden away by the PNP. They claim they’re in a safehouse but with all that the police have been doing recently, how certain can we be that it truly is safe?” said the SOSN.
The SOSN has helped bring the displaced Lumads to different schools in the country with the help of the Catholic Church in order to ensure that the children can continue their education through the Bakwit School program.
This led to their visit to a Catholic university in Cebu City where they have been stuck since the pandemic began.
“The videos during the operation will show you that when the police came, the students did not react like they’ve just seen their rescuers or heroes. Instead, they shouted and cried in fear and anxiety.”
“It seems cruel to leave them in the hands of the agency that is responsible for causing such trauma. How ironic is it that the rescuers act more like captors? It is heartbreaking to think of the fear and anxiety those children must still be experiencing in their detention,” said SOSN.
The network believes that the DSWD is the best agency to handle the traumatized children as they are better equipped to handle such delicate things than the police.
” It is also how regular rescues should be conducted. As an agency mandated to serve the welfare of the people, it is your duty to do so. So please, take custody of the children. The children should not be left in the hands of their captors… Now, it is your duty to rescue them from the PNP,” they said.
CDN Digital tried to reach the DSWD Regional Office in Central Visayas (DSWD-7) over the letter, and Assistant Regional Director Shalaine Lucero told CDN Digital in a text message that they are yet to read the letter.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), however, already said the children are under the custody of DSWD. /rcg
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