Alleged former cadres claim Bakwit schools formed by CPP-NPA to gain sympathy, funds
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Two men from Mindanao, who claim to be former cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), have alleged that the Lumad Bakwit School is a facade of “a large scale systematic human trafficking” of the CPP-NPA.
Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, who claim to be former CPP-NPA cadre, said during a press briefing at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) in Cebu City on Sunday, February 28, that one of the goals for Lumad Bakwit School of the group was to help them generate funds internationally.
“The group (CPP-NPA) has three goals for the Lumad Bakwit School. One for funding purposes. Two is to gain sympathy and (the third is) for recuitment,” said Celiz, who claimed that he was a former CPP-NPA national coordinator and according to an Inquirer report an anti-Red “star witness” during last year’s Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation hearing on red-tagging.
A Philippine News Agency report also described Celiz as a former rebel, who is now a government consultant.
Celiz claimed that Cebu City was part of the group’s ‘target’ for the Lumad Bakwit School to ‘generate funds, generate public sympathy and to recruit members’.
He also said that he and Noel “Ka Efren” Legaspi came to Cebu from Mindanao to show that the system behind the Lumad Bakwit School was allegedly linked to a network of CPP-NPA.
“Ka Efren” or Noel Legaspi, on the other hand, claimed that he was a former spokesperson of the New People’s Army-Far South Mindanao Regional Revolutionary Committee.
Legaspi was also a witness to the Senate hearings on “red-tagging” last year.
Meanwhile, Celiz also alleged that the Lumad Bakwit School in Cebu was nothing but an extension of the big program planned by the CPP-NPA in the country specifically in Mindanao areas.
He claimed that the indigenous children were allegedly recruited from their community in Mindanao to be an instrument for their ‘project proposal’ through the ‘Mindanao Interfaith Solidarity Foundation’ (MISFI).
“Ang pagkakaroon kanang so called ‘Lumad Bakwit Schools” sa area ng Cebu ay walang pinagkaiba po ito sa programa ng CPP-NPA-NDF na hakutin illegally at makapag-linlang at makapangluko ng mga kabataang katutubo sa Mindanao upang i-showcase na sila ay hina-harass ng gobyerno, ng military at police,” Ka Eric said.
(Having the so-called “Lumad Bakwit Schools in the Cebu area is similar to the program of the CPP-NPA-NDF to bring illegally and to dupe the indigenous children of Mindanao to showcase that they were being harassed by the government, the military and the police.)
During the press briefing, Celiz and Legaspi also brought along with them former teachers of the Bakwit schools, whom the two claimed were among the 20 teachers out of 300 who already surrendered to the police.
Celiz and Legaspi claimed that one of the seven arrested in the Talamban school rescue operation in Cebu City was allegedly the top radical infiltrator and agitator of the youth of the CPP-NPA.
Both former cadres claimed that this was the purpose the group allegedly created the Save Our Schools Network (SOS) to have this radical infiltrator to infiltrate and to have the programs of the group to be recognized by other sectors.
It was first reported that the SOS Network was the organization behind the Bakwit School. In previous reports, bakwit was defined by the group as the ‘highest expression’ of the Lumad children to descend from their ancestral land after they were allegedly militarized from their community through forced school closures.
These Lumad children, accordingly, went to Cebu to seek sanctuary after the incident.
On February 15, 2021, the PRO-7 policemen along with the other government agencies, had a ‘rescue operation’ to rescue a total of 19 minors in a retreat house inside a university in Barangay Talamban, Cebu City that led to the arrest of seven other adult individuals.
The seven arrested individuals were reportedly charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Meanwhile, the Save Our Schools Network (SOS) released a statement pertaining to the inconsistencies of the PNP in handling detained Teacher Roshelle Porcadilla, one of the seven people arrested in the February 15 rescue operation.
Some SOS supporters conducted a quick response protest in front of the PRO-7 on the evening of February 28 in support of Porcadilla.
“Earlier today at 9 a.m., Teacher Roshelle was taken from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to be brought to the PRO-7 under orders of PNP Chief Debold Sinas,” the SOS said in its statement on Sunday, February 28.
“The SOS team went to PRO-7 only to be told that Teacher Roschelle was already taken by Police Colonel Robert Limbawan. Until now, her whereabouts are unknown,” said the SOS in its statement.
The protesters said that there was no truth to the lies that the PNP was allegedly peddling.
Police Colonel Robert Limbawan claimed that Teacher Roshelle’s counsel was not NUPL-Cebu (National Union of People’s Lawyers-Cebu).
However, SOS claimed that Teacher Roschelle actually signed the request for preliminary investigation document confirming that NUPL-Cebu would represent her.
The group also condemned in the statement the PNP’s alleged “blatant display of fascism”.
The group also said that they would continue to call for the release of the detained “Bakwit School 7” that included Teacher Roschelle.
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