Labella wants remaining Lumad children under DSWD care

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | February 19,2021 - 06:59 PM

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella. CDN Digital Photo | Morexette Marie Erram

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella wants the remaining Lumad children to be taken under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). 

Labella said that the DSWD would be best equipped to take custody of the six Lumad children still in the city after they were “rescued” by the police during a raid of a retreat house inside a university campus in Barangay Talamban. 

The Lumad children were allegedly taken to Cebu without the consent of their parents through the Bakwit School program. 

Read: SOS to DSWD: Take up custody of ‘seized’ Lumad children

The Save Our Schools Network already denied these allegations and said they had documentary proof of the parents’ consent. 

Labella said the children, who had been reunited to their parents, were under the custody of the police. 

However, the children, whose parents had yet to be contacted, were now under the custody of the city’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS). 

“I’ll instruct the DSWS to turn over the children to the proper agencies with better facilities for their protection,” said Labella. 

DSWS social worker, Anne Suico, said that 13 of the 19 Lumad children would return to Davao tonight, February 19, 2021. 

“Naa ma’y unom ka bata from Sultan Kudarat, ang usa taga-Davao de Oro. Unom sila nga walay ginikanan so amo lang ni sila ishelter kay 4 ka babae ug 2 ka lalaki ang nahabilin,” said Suico in phone interview with reporters. 

(There are still six children from Sultan Kudarat and one from Davao de Oro. Six others have no parents so for now we have given them shelter because these are four girls and two boys, who are still here.)

Read: Cebu City tour for Lumad children part of stress debriefing – PNP chief

Suico said that the DSWS only assisted the operation of the police and ensured the children would be taken care of during the process. 

“We did psycho-social intervention last Wednesday sa mga bata. Naa mi activity sa mga bata diri sa PRO, mga relaxation and focus group discussion,” she added. 

(We did psycho-social intervention to the children last Wednesday. We have an activity for the children here at the PRO, relaxation and focus group discussions.)

Read: CLB: Lumad children were ‘seized’ not ‘rescued,’ best interest for children ignored

Labella has also ordered the investigation of the incident, where police allegedly violated the rights of the children and the Lumads. 

He ordered the City Legal Office to conduct an investigation on whether the children’s rights were violated. 

Meanwhile, the Save Our School Network (SOSN) is still calling for the release of the Lumad children. 

In a statement, they said, that out of 13 children on the way home, only six were with their parents. 

“Even without a court order, a legal binding document, or written consent from the parents, 13 Lumad minors, wherein 3 are actually adults being touted as minors, are set to be flown home to Mindanao tonight by the LGU, Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD), and social workers of Talaingod, Davao del Norte,” said SOSN.

“Of the 13 Lumad students, only 6 have parents with them. The rest were spoken for by the LGU and a tribal chieftain,” said SOSN. 

The SOSN Cebu asserts that the Talaingod LGU and the WCPD cannot force the children to go home if their parents are not with them and there is no court order presented./dbs


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TAGS: bakwit school program, children, DSWD, DSWS, Labella, lumad, Save Our Schools Network, SOSN

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