EDITORIAL - Welfare of the children first

The Freeman
EDITORIAL - Welfare of the children first

The biggest controversy right now is the operation that led to the police custody of several Lumad minors who were sheltered in a retreat house in a Cebu university campus and the arrest of several of their teachers.

Depending on who is looking, some would call it a rescue because some parents contacted the police asking for help to look for their children who were allegedly taken from them in Mindanao in 2018, while others would call it a raid because of the way those who allegedly did nothing wrong were treated.

It has generated so much publicity there is no doubt some people will seek to use the event to further some causes.

Those who are campaigning against the alleged maltreatment of Lumads in Mindanao will readily use it as an example of what the authorities are allegedly willing to do to harass indigenous people.

Those who argue that policemen should not just be allowed to barge into university campuses without coordinating with school authorities will also have their “aha!” moment.

State forces may use the story to bolster accusations that alleged recruitment by communists is rife in many universities. In fact, the police already said these particular children were recruited by a front actually belonging to the communist terrorist group.

While those on the other side of the fence will say this “terror tactics” is what people have to look forward to with the anti-terror law.

There are so many ways this story can be spun and interpreted. But before all that, before the waters are muddied, let’s first establish the basics. It must first be established if the students, including the minors, were taken against their will, or if they were not supposed to be there.

And if they should not have been there, then why and how did they get there? And what should be done about them? Let’s put their welfare first. Everything else can be determined later.

It might be tempting to quickly come to a conclusion about the events immediately, but much still remains to be uncovered. Not all who should have the chance to explain has spoken or been given the chance to do so. This is what journalists call a “running story”.

Many sides have yet to be uncovered and the entire story has yet to be told. But let’s attend to the issues about the children first. All the rest can follow.

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