âRescuedâ lumad children, parents to return to Davao
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development-7, this was the agreement reached by the Local Social Welfare and Development Office of Cebu City, the Police Regional Office-7, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-7.

‘Rescued’ lumad children, parents to return to Davao

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - February 21, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Lumad children who were “rescued” by the police from their elders and teachers while taking temporary shelter at a university retreat house in Cebu City are set to return, along with some parents, to their hometown in Davao del Norte.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development-7, this was the agreement reached by the Local Social Welfare and Development Office of Cebu City, the Police Regional Office-7, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-7.

As for two boys and four girls without parents, they will be sheltered at the LSWDO and DSWD facilities here.

The Commission on Human Rights-7 said it will continue its own investigation even if the children will return to Mindanao.

CHR-7 said that of the 19 minors, 13 were about to return to Mindanao yesterday evening, while six others will have to wait for their parents to come over to Cebu.

Leo Villarino, CHR-7 chief investigator, said they will continue with their investigation, stressing that they will ask CHR office in their Davao to monitor the children.

 "Karon kay dili naman na sila nato ma-interview, but even if they will already be in their hometowns, we will coordinate with our office didto sa ilang lugar to monitor pod nila," said Villarino.

"But here, magpadayon ta sa atong investigation. We will now cover katong wala nato ma -pursue like sa retreat house, we need to interview the people sa retreat house and then we will proceed to cooperating with the police," he added.

Villarino said investigators were deployed yesterday for a whole-day interview with the children before they return home.

He said they have a lot of information but stressed that they could not divulge any information yet.

When asked if police have been hiding the children from their investigation, Villarino clarified that they were informed with their whereabouts.

"Wala na gitago. Gi-withhold lang ang whereabouts. Eventually, we were informed. In fact, our investigators went to that place nga didto gibutang ang mga bata para ma-interview. We are thankful sa Police Regional office-7 for allowing us for a whole day talk with the children," he said.

PNP Chief Debold Sinas disclosed on Friday that the 19 Lumad children were billeted in a hotel in Cebu City while undergoing stress debriefing.

Sinas also said they are willing to face the CHR in court should there be charges to be filed against the police.

Villarino also noted the suggestion of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella to transfer the custody of the six remaining children to the Department of Social Welfare and Services.

"Mayor Labella has a good point. He wants the custody of these children be now transferred to DSWS. Sakto man gyud na kay kani man gung 'rescue' of the children, gipahigayon man na not just with the police but with the coordination of DSWS. Ato na nang na-confirm nag adunay coordination with the DSWS katong alleged rescue," he said.

"Necessary, it would follow nga kon 'rescue' gani, the children would be safe under the custody of DSWS. But at the same time, we also understand that the PNP is also very much concerned about the security of the children," he added.


On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the chair of the Regional Council for the Welfare of Children and DSWD-7 representatives will meet with IACAT7-ACP-VAWC chaired by the Department of Justice to come up with a comprehensive after-care plan for the Lumad children.

The LSWDO of Cebu City, as well as the LSWDO of Talaingod, a municipality in Davao del Norte, will also conduct a parenting capability assessment prior to the turnover of the minors to their parents or guardians.

DSWD said it will continue to monitor the case to ensure that follow-through services are properly implemented.

Meanwhile, DSWD-7 clarified that the recent rescue operation of Lumad children was conducted in coordination with the local government unit through its LSWDO, which is the first responder in protecting the welfare of minors under its jurisdiction.

The department explained that the LSWDO was equipped in handling and dealing with the situation since it is “constantly being provided with technical assistance by them in managing cases involving minors.”

One of the technical assistance being provided by the Department to the LSWDO, the agency said, is the conduct of psychosocial processing sessions of children who have gone through traumatic incidents.

“LSWDO social workers, together with the personnel of the Police Regional Office 7-Women and Children's Protection Desk, provided psychosocial intervention to the children after the rescue operations,” the statement read. — Mae Fhel K. Gom-os, JMD (FREEMAN)

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