DAVAO CITY – Charges of kidnapping, illegal detention, and qualified trafficking in persons were filed against seven persons who brought 19 Lumad children in Cebu City without their parents’ permission.
Lumad is a Visayan term of the indigenous peoples (IP).
The seven suspects were among the 26 people nabbed by government authorities during the rescue operation on the 19 children in a retreat house inside the University of San Carlos (USC) in Talamban, Cebu.
Nabbed were teachers Roshelle Porcadilla and Chad Booc; Lumad datu or elders Benito Bay-ao and Segundo Milong; and Lumad adult students Moddie Mansumoy-at, Esmelito Oribawan, and Jomar Binag.
They were charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention, violation of the Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and the Anti-Child Abuse Law. Parents earlier claimed that their children were taken by Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon members.
The charges were filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group before the Davao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Tagum City last Feb. 17 during inquest proceedings.
Police Regional Office in Davao Region (PRO-Davao) director Police Brig. Gen. Filmore Escobal said in a Facebook live press conference that aside from the seven suspects, the authorities will also file charges against those other involved in illegal transportation of the children.
“The investigation is still ongoing. We are monitoring other personalities. Those people who will be proven involved behind this illegal transportation of the children will also be held accountable,” Escobal said.
Meanwhile, Escobal said Tuesday that the parents of four children rescued in Cebu City have not yet returned to their homes.
Escobal said that based on initial investigation, these parents who were looking for their children were fetched by unidentified people who introduced themselves as policemen.
He said that their children is being taken care of by the government.
“We are calling on the four parents, who have not yet returned to their homes looking for their children, nasa pangangalaga na ng gobyerno ang inyong mga anak (The government is taking care of your children). They are already safe. Umuwi na po kayo (Go home),” Escobal said.
Escobal also urged other parents, whose child is still not found, not to believe in anyone arriving in their houses and introducing themselves as members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Again, huwag po kayong maniwala kaagad na nasa kanila ang inyong mga anak (Don’t immediately believe that your kids are under their custody). Dun sa apat na mga magulang, nananawagan kami na umuwi na po kayo (To the four parents, we urge you to go home),” Escobal said, adding that they are investigating these poseurs.