Lumad peoples

5 Lumad students in Cebu flown to GenSan without consent – rights groups

Lorraine Ecarma
5 Lumad students in Cebu flown to GenSan without consent – rights groups

HELP. A video purportedly shows a Lumad child in Cebu City clinging to a human rights advocate.

Screenshot from SOS Network video

Save Our Schools Network Cebu says the exact whereabouts of the 5 Lumad students remain unknown as of Sunday, April 11

The Save Our Schools Network Cebu (SOS) decried what it said was the “forceful transport” of the remaining 5 Lumad students in Cebu City to General Santos City.

The 5 Lumad children are among the 19 students taken by police following a raid at a makeshift Lumad educational center in the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu back in February.

On Saturday, April 10, SOS released a video purportedly showing the 5 Lumad students at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, about to board their flight to General Santos City.

The footage, the group said, shows children clinging to human rights advocates as they are being led forward by social welfare workers.

SOS said the Lumad students were flown to General Santos City by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Central Visayas without the consent of their parents.

“Even without the consent of the parents of the Lumad minors nor a court order, DSWD [personnel] are forcing the Lumad children to board a flight to General Santos City,” the group said.

SOS also pointed out that one of the 5 Lumad students is 18 years old and should be able to decide for herself.

Sought for comment, DSWD Central Visayas told Rappler that it is drafting a statement on the matter.

As this was happening, a Lumad father separated from his child was about to fly to Cebu City from General Santos City to seek a writ of habeas corpus.

This is similar to what Lumad father Lope Haictin did to regain custody of his child from DSWD Central Visayas back in March.

“Mo flight unta ko’g Cebu. Ang problema, akong gisugat, kay pariha amoang oras. Unya, wa ko nadayon. Unya, naa’y nag-update sa akoa nga ang mga bata, naga-uli,” the father, who requested anonymity, told Rappler in a phone interview.

(I was about to fly to Cebu. The problem was, the person I was supposed to meet had the same flight schedule as me. So, I was not able to fly out. And then I was updated that the children had already been flown back.)

The Lumad father also said he received no word from the DSWD about his child’s flight to Mindanao. 

“Sa pagkakaron, wa pa ko kahibaw unsa’y updates nila,” he said. (As of now, I still have no updates on the students.)

As of Sunday, April 11, SOS said it has not yet received information on the exact whereabouts of the Lumad students. It is still unclear whether they will remain under the custody of social welfare workers or be released back to their parents.

Of the 19 Lumad students, 13 were also flown back to Mindanao by the DSWD in February. One other student is Haictin’s daughter.

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Seven of their teachers and elders are currently in detention, facing complaints of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

Police claimed that the students were being trained as child combatants for communist rebels while at the university.

The USC administration, along with human rights and religious organizations, refuted this claim, saying the Lumad students’ prolonged stay at the university was because of pandemic lockdowns. – Rappler.com

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