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Cebu rights groups ask police for arrested Lumad teacher's whereabouts

Human rights groups in Cebu are calling for police to declare the whereabouts of Lumad bakwit school teacher Roshelle Porcadilla after claims that she had been moved without prior notice.

On Sunday, February 28, a paralegal team from the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network reportedly visited the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to see the volunteer teacher but were told by police that she had been moved to the Police Regional Office-7.

Porcadilla is among the seven individuals arrested during a February 15 raid in a makeshift Lumad school on the University of San Carlos-Talamban campus, for allegedly kidnapping minors and training them to be “child warriors” for a communist rebel group.

In a statement to media, SOS Network said their team was told by police that the orders to move Porcadilla came all the way from Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas. They added that the transfer was done without the knowledge of Porcadilla’s family and legal counsel.

The paralegal team, members of Porcadilla's legal counsel, and Porcadilla's aunt then proceeded to PRO-7 in search of Porcadilla, but were also reportedly told by police that she had already been taken by PCol. Robert Limbawan, PRO-7 Regional Intelligence Division chief.

When asked about Porcadilla’s actual whereabouts, Limbawan told Rappler on Monday, March 1, that she was being held in a detention cell at CCPO. He further denied allegations that she had previously been moved.

Hindi na-transfer ‘yan. Nasa CCPO detention cell sa Gorordo,” he said via text message.

(She was not transferred. She’s in a CCPO detention cell in Gorordo.)

Rights groups fear that Porcadilla may be facing harassment and intimidation.

“This is not the first time that Teacher Roshelle was hidden by the PNP. It took almost 24 hours before lawyers were able to see her after she was arrested. She also previously expressed that she was made to make a statement in an affidavit during a custodial investigation without counsel. She has also experienced intimidation by the people holding her custody,” the statement reads.

The SOS Network also called on the Commission on Human Rights to probe the “irregularities” in the detention and handling of Porcadilla. – Rappler.com