Satur, Castro, 70 others held for 'child trafficking' in Davao del Norte
Ocampo—president of Bayan Muna party-list and a former member of Congress—and Castro were in Talaingod town on a humanitarian mission when they were arrested, a member of the ACT party-list said.
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Satur, Castro, 70 others held for 'child trafficking' in Davao del Norte

Ryan Macasero (Philstar.com) - November 29, 2018 - 2:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has confirmed the arrest of Rep. France Castro (ACT party-list), former congressman Satur Ocampo , and 79 others in Davao Del Norte for alleged child trafficking.

The STAR reported Thursday that "tribal leaders and chieftan" will file a case of child trafficking against the arrested persons.

It is yet unclear what the grounds for the charges are, but, under the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012, it is illegal to "o recruit, transport, harbor, obtain, transfer, maintain, hire, offer, provide, adopt or receive a child for purposes of exploitation or trading them, including but not limited to, the act of baring and/or selling a child for any consideration or for barter for purposes of exploitation."

The same law defines trafficking for the purposes of exploitation of children as: 

  • "(1) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, involuntary servitude, debt bondage and forced labor, including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • "(2) The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography, or for pornographic performances;
  • "(3) The use, procuring or offering of a child for the production and trafficking of drugs; and
  • "(4) The use, procuring or offering of a child for illegal activities or work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm their health, safety or morals; and
  • "(l) To organize or direct other persons to commit the offenses defined as acts of trafficking under this Act."

Humanitarian mission

Ocampo—president of Bayan Muna party-list and a former member of Congress—and Castro were in Talaingod town on a humanitarian mission when they were arrested, a member of the ACT party-list said.

According to a statement posted on Facebook by Rep. Antonio Tinio (ACT party-list), the mission was stopped at a roadblock. "The solidarity mission convoy was attacked by men believed to be members of the paramilitary group known as Alamara," Tinio said.

Alamara is a paramilitary group that human rights groups have linked to attacks on indigenous peoples' communities in the province.

In 2015, Human Rights Watch said it had "received reports that elements of the military were consistently nearby when the Alamara group carried out attacks in Davao del Norte." It also said that "in some instances, the troops accompanied paramilitaries as they harassed students and teachers of a tribal school in the town of Talaingod." 

Tinio said that "[t]ires of some of their vehicles where spiked, the windshield of the van ridden by Rep. Castro and Ka Satur was broken, and gunshots fired in their vicinity."

He said that "instead of going after the attackers, the police brought the mission participants to the Talaingod police station where they are being held up to now."

SOS Network: Team was sent to help children, teachers leaving militarized community

The Save Our Schools Network said the team was on a mission was to rescue school children and teachers evacuating from a militarized community.

"The NSFFM team are currently illegally detained for more than 10 huors now," SOS said in the statement on Thursday.

They called for the release of those arrested in Talaingod  and that they "should not be further victims of trumped up charges.

Last August, Ocampo was among four former lawmakers charged by the Palayan Regional Trial Court for murder. Ocampo, former Gabriela Representative and anti-poverty chief Liza Maza, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño, and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, slammed the arrest warrants then as a form of government harassment.

READ: 4 ex-party-list lawmakers face arrest for farmers'

ANTONIO TINIO FRANCE CASTRO SATUR OCAMPO
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