The Philippine National Police (PNP) has accused the New People’s Army (NPA) of abducting four parents of some of the Lumad minors whom authorities claimed to have rescued from the retreat house of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said the four parents were among the Ata Manobo parents who were supposed to be met by local policemen in Talaingod town of Davao del Norte for their trip to Cebu City to meet their children.
Only two parents, however, showed up and quoting a report from the local police, Sinas said the four parents were taken on Sunday by organizers of communist front groups who introduced themselves as police officers.
He said the four were later monitored applying for travel authority at the airport and undergoing swab test.
“Obviously, these four parents were lured into believing they would be meeting with their children in Cebu when they were taken by persons who disguised themselves as police officers. I can only surmise that this is part of desperate moves by the communist front organizations to get away from the criminal liability of serious illegal detention and child exploitation,” said Sinas.
Sinas said, police and social welfare authorities in Davao are exerting effort to locate all parents of the Lumad children rescued from the University of San Carlos Retreat House in Balamban, Cebu City to obtain their sworn statements.
“These Lumad parents need to go to Cebu because their rescued minor children will only be released to them, and will only be allowed to travel back to Davao accompanied by their parents or guardians. However, the Lumad children are back in Davao now and there is no way the parents would be able to meet them in Cebu,” he said.
Six Lumad parents earlier travelled to Cebu City to accompany their rescued children back to Davao.
Of the 13 Manobo children rescued in Cebu City, only six were able to return to Davao on Sunday accompanied by their parents after the Children’s Legal Bureau cancelled the travel of the seven other Lumad children because they were not accompanied by their parents.
But the social workers from Cebu and Davao, together with the tribal leaders worked together to bring the Talaingod children to Davao where they could supposedly meet their parents.
According to Sinas, the Ata Manobo children were among the 19 Lumad minors from different parts of Mindanao who were brought to Cebu City by members of communist front Salugpongan School purportedly to undergo alternative learning.
He added, however, that there were reports indicating that the children were undergoing some form of radicalization and revolutionary warfare indoctrination.
On February 17, a case for violation of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) (Kidnapping with Serious Illegal Detention), Violation of sec. 10, Republic Act 7610 and violation of Section 4i, 4j, 4k and Section 9 of RA 9208 as amended by RA 10364 (Trafficking in Persons Act) were filed before the Provincial Prosecutors Office, Hall of Justice, Capitol Site, Mankilam, Tagum City against the ‘arrested’ suspects.
They were identified as Benito Bay-ao, Segundo Melong, Esmelito Paumba Torebawan, Chad Ramirez Booc, Jomar Malique Binag, Moddie Langayed Mansumuy-at, Rochelle Mae Procadilla.
Why They Were in Cebu
Sinas said a back-tracking investigation showed that the Lumad minors were brought to UCCP Haran, Davao City in 2018 by a Salugpungan teacher only known as ‘Michelle. They were then transferred to Cebu City without the knowledge and consent of the parents. On January 29, an investigation team met three of the parents.
Sinas said the investigating team found out that the Salugpungan teacher asked permission from them to transport their children only to UCCP Haran, Davao City in order to continue their studies with the condition that their children can visit them every month.
“The said promise did not happen because the minors were brought to Cebu City,” said Sinas.
One of the teachers of the defunct Salugpungan School and also one of the accused in the kidnapping case filed against Satur Ocampo and others in November 2018, surrendered to National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (BICA) Region 10 last month.
He allegedly told investigators that he brought 13 minors to Cebu City particularly at San Carlos University at Talamban, Cebu City.
On November 28, 2018, Satur Ocampo and 17 others were arrested for transporting 14 minors (Salugpungan students) at the checkpoint at Brgy. Sto. Nino, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
Cases were filed through inquest proceedings. Satur Ocampo and 17 others posted bail amounting to P80,000 each for charges of human trafficking, kidnapping and failure to return a minor.
The 12 girls rescued minors were brought to Home for Girls, Maa, Davao City and the two boys were temporarily sheltered at the Home for the Aged, Tagum City.
On October 7, 2019, the Department of Education closed the Salugpungan School at Sitio Dulyan, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte where the rescued minors have studied.
Davao officials said Salugpungan schools have existed in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS) in the region since 2003 as front of the local communist movement to educate young Indigenous People against the government.