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Return of 13 lumad kids to Mindanao legal – PNP

Iris Hazel M. Mascardo (The Freeman) - February 23, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Philippine National Police (PNP) has denied the allegations of the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) that seven of the 13 lumad children “rescued” from a bakwit school inside a university campus in Cebu City were sent home to Mindanao Sunday evening without the consent of their parents.

 Police Col. Robert Limbawan, chief of Regional Intelligence Division-7, said the children were accompanied by six parents, tribe leaders, and social workers from the municipal government of Talaingod in their flight back home to Mindanao.

They left Mactan Cebu International Airport at 6:23 p.m. via Cebu Pacific and arrived in Davao City at 7:10 p.m.

"May mga sumalubong sa kanila doon sa Davao, may mga banner pa nga sila doon, mga tribal leaders at saka mga social workers," Limbawan said. 

He explained that they do not need consent to send the children back home to be reunited with their parents.

"Kasinungalingan yan, anong without parents’ consent, eh nag travel na kasama yung parents nila and they were escorted by the CSWD of Talaingod," Limbawan said.

Claiming that the parents engaged their legal services, the CLB through lawyer King Anthony Perez tried to stop the seven lumad children from boarding the flight citing lack of parental consent but failed.

"We are closely working on this matter after we have communicated with the parents who sought our legal assistance to address this situation," CLB statement reads.

The CLB contended that the travel of the children was illegal because it was not covered by a court order.

Contrary to CLB’s claim, Limbawan said they have complied with all the protocols before sending the children back home. In fact, all of the children were subjected to RT-PCR test before they were allowed to travel.

He said they do not also need to secure a court order for the travel because the children were “rescued” by them.

"Why do we need a court order, these are 'rescued children', they are with their parents, their tribal leader, the DSWD, they do not need a court order for that,” Limbawan said.

At present, only six lumad children remain in Cebu City because they are still communicating with the parents. The remaining children are from Sultan Kudarat and Zamboanga City.

"We are still waiting for their parents para sila yung kukuha, kasi they are from other places, they are not from Davao," said Limbawan.

The children are temporarily in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) while waiting for their travel back home. According to Limbawan, the children’s travel will depend how soon their parents can come to fetch them.

"Initially may mga na contact na tayo (parents), but not all, so may mga iba pa tayong ginagawa in coordination with the PRO-12 at saka doon sa Zamboanga," he said.

The children were among those the police ‘rescued’ from a bakwit school inside the University of San Carlos in Talamban, Cebu City. They were allegedly brought to Cebu by the Save Our Schools Network without the consent of their parents.

At least six parents sought the assistance of the police that led to a ‘rescue’ operation on February 15, 2021. Seven individuals were also arrested during the operation and are now facing criminal complaints for kidnapping and serious illegal detention before the prosecutor’s office in Davao City. — FPL (FREEMAN)

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