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13 of 19 Lumad minors in Cebu school raid expected to travel back to hometown

Thirteen of the 19 Lumad minors involved in the bakwit school raid in Cebu City are expected to travel back to their hometown.

In a phone interview on Friday, February 19, Cebu City Social Welfare officer Annie Suico told Rappler that the 13 children are merely waiting for their COVID-19 test results before they could travel back to Davao del Norte. These 13 minors will be accompanied by their respective parents.

"Ang 13 ani, molarga na sila I think tonight. Kay, naghuwat na lang sa swab test [result]," Suico said. 

(Thirteen if them will travel travel back I think tonight. They're just waiting for their swab test results.)

Meanwhile, Suico said that the 6 remaining minors will be referred to a shelter since they have not been claimed by their parents yet. 

In the same phone interview, Suico confirmed that the minors have been in police custody since they were extracted from the University of San Carlos on Monday, February 15. This was also confirmed by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella during his virtual presser on Friday. 

Suico explained that all 19 needed to be under the custody of the Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) because the minors were required to be swabbed before they could be referred to a shelter.

They were swabbed only on Thursday, February 18 – 3 days after the raid. 

"Kita nga mga social workers sa Cebu City, igo lang ta ni-attend during the rescue and we gave psychosocial intervention last Wednesday," she explained. 

(We social workers in Cebu City only attended to the rescue operation. And we gave a psychosocial intervention last Wednesday.) 

In an open letter to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Save Our Schools Network-Cebu, the convenors of the bakwit schools, demanded that the government agency "step up" in taking custody of the 19 children.

"It is time then for you to take custody to ensure the children are safe and well-treated. As an agency mandated to serve the welfare of the people, it is your duty to do so," the letter reads.

In a statement late Friday afternoon, Save Our Schools Network-Cebu demanded the release of the Lumad minors, saying they were being flown to Mindanao by the local government of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and the WCPD “even without a court order, a legal binding document, or written consent from the parents.”

“Of the 13 Lumad students, only 6 have parents with them. The rest were spoken for by the LGU and a tribal chieftain,” the organization said.

It also pointed out that of the 13 being flown to Mindanao, “3 are actually adults being touted as minors.” – Rappler.com