Arrested Lumad teacher Chad Booc claimed parents of Lumad students were forced by police to travel to Cebu to retrieve their children.
In his first interview with media since his arrest, Booc revealed in a Rappler Talk last June 8 that members of the bakwit school in Cebu already knew of the “rescue operation” as early as the first week of February. This is about a week prior to the mass arrests of Lumad volunteer teachers, students, and datus on February 15 from an evacuee school in the University of San Carlos – Talamban Campus.
“Even before February 15, starting the first week of February, talagang napakarami ng mga updates and threats nanggagaling sa communities. Kasi, ang mga bata – ang mga estudyante namin ay nakakapag communicate sa kanilang parents doon sa komunidad,” he said.
(Even before February 15, starting the first week of February, there were plenty of updates and threats from the communities. Because the children – our students were able to communicate with their parents in the communities.)
Booc also said parents reportedly told their children that they were being threatened with jail time and cases should they refuse to fly out to Cebu with police.
“At sinasabi ng kanilang mga magulang ay talagang pinagbabantaan sila na kapag hindi sila sumama sa kapulisan ay huhulihin sila,” Booc said.
(Their parents told them that they were constantly being threatened that if they refused to go with police, they would be arrested.)
Some of the retrieved Lumad children made the same claims in a video posted by the Save Our Schools Network days after the police operation.
“Talagang ini-expect na namin na parating ang parents. Although ang inexpect namin ay parang mas civil na approach,” he added.
(We really expected the parents to arrive. Although, we expected a more civil approach.)
That was not what happened. Videos online showed Lumad students screaming and being dragged out of the retreat house, some being carried out of the vicinity.
Despite this, Central Visayas police insist they were merely assisting social workers in the retrieval of the Lumad students upon the request of their parents.
“When the parents, together with the MSWDO (Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office) of Talaingod asked [for] the assistance of the PNP, we have no other recourse but to extend our help. Otherwise, we will also be neglecting our duties to protect Filipino citizens,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Ehdel Pereira, acting chief of the Central Visayas police legal office, said in the same Rappler Talk.
Pereira claimed the commotion started because children were being prevented from approaching their parents.
“Little commotions comes in kasi (because) they prevented the children – the minor children to go with their parents,” he said.
Central Visayas police also refiled the recently dismissed complaints against the seven arrested bakwit school delegates.
There is an on-going congressional inquiry on the “rescue” operation and the subsequent arrests of Lumad school members. The Commission on Human Rights – Central Visayas has also launched its own investigation on possible violations during the arrests. – Rappler.com