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Court to cops, DSWD: Present lumad minor

(The Freeman) - March 6, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Regional Trial Court in Cebu City has ordered the Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-7 to bring to court on March 9, 2021 at 2 p.m. one of the lumad minors authorities 'rescued' during an operation at a university in Cebu City on February 15.

Judge Leah Geraldez of RTC Branch 20 in Cebu City granted the petition for habeas corpus filed by the child’s father.

“Finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance, the court hereby grants the prayer for the issuance of Writ of Habeas Corpus,” reads Geraldez’s order.

The child is among the lumad children left in Cebu. Thirteen others have returned to Mindanao last month.

The father, whose identity The Freeman withheld to protect the child, named PRO-7 director Brigadier General Ronnie Montejo, DSWD-7 regional director Rebecca Geamala, and Brenda Abilo, staff at DSWD-7 Crisis Intervention Center, as respondents in the petition. 

He alleged that his child "and the other lumad children are currently detained and confined illegally by the respondent DSWD VII Crisis Intervention Center" and that they are held there allegedly "so that the police will have control of their movements."

The father was assisted by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Cebu City, Human Rights Lawyers, and the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Authorities took custody of 21 lumad children from a bakwit school taking refuge at the University of San Carlos in Talamban, Cebu City during an operation last month. Police claimed the children were brought to Cebu from Mindanao without the consent of their parents. At least six parents accompanied the police and social workers from Talaingod town in Davao del Norte during the operation which led to the arrest of seven individuals. Complaints for kidnapping and serious illegal detention were already filed against the suspects. —FPL (FREEMAN)

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