Court to DSWD-7: Release Lumad minor to her father

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 11,2021 - 06:51 PM
Court to DSWD-7: Release Lumad minor

The Department of Social Welfare and Development or DSWD will continue to monitor the “rescued” Lumad children who have been returned to their respective homes, | Pegeen Maisie Sararaña (file photo)

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A trial court here has ordered state social workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas or DSWD-7 to release from their custody one of the Lumad minors that they escorted during a police-led operation in a university last Feb. 15.

Branch 20 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cebu City issued an order on Thursday, March 11, directing the Central Visayas offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-7) and the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) to return to Lope Haictin his 16-year-old daughter.

It was penned by Presiding Judge Leah Geraldez.

The daughter was one of the 19 Lumad minors that the DSWD-7 and PRO-7 escorted out of a retreat house inside University of San Carlos’ Talamban Campus (USC-TC) on Feb. 15, during an operation that eventually turned out to be controversial.

Thirteen of the indigenous minors have been flown back to their hometowns in Davao Del Norte while some, including Lope’s daughter, remained under government custody.

Based on the eight-page ruling, Lope sought the assistance of the court to claim his daughter back by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under Rule 102 and in Relation to Custody of Minors.

In his request, Lope reported that social workers from DSWD-7 barred him from getting his daughter back.

The court ruled in favor of the Haictins, stating that they ‘find no factual and legal basis for the confinement of Lope’s daughter at DSWD-7’s Crisis Intervention Center’.

They also dismissed the responses raised by DSWD-7, defending their decision to keep the 16-year-old Lumad under their custody.

One of these linked Lope as allegedly a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), and that his alleged connections with the communist-terrorists had rendered him incapable of providing the needs for his daughter.

“The Court cannot deprive the petitioners of such a fundamental right as parental authority over his child based on bare allegations alone,” the document added.

Based on information gathered by the court, the Haictins were natives of Pitogo town in Zamboanga del Sur, and that Lope gave his daughter permission to join the Bakwit Schools Program in Cebu in 2019.

The father later learned the fate of his daughter last Feb. 16 from one of his co-workers, prompting him to fly to Cebu.

During his first visits to DSWD-7, Lope was permitted to meet his daughter but was surprised when he was prevented from doing so on Feb. 27.

CDN Digital has reached out to DSWD-7 for their comments on this development as of this posting.

To recall, police said the children were being allegedly 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.

/dbs

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TAGS: Court to DSWD-7: Release Lumad minor, Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas, DSWD-7, lumad, Lumad Bakwit School, Lumad children in Cebu

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