After over 9 hours of waiting, the seven detained Lumad bakwit school delegates have finally been released Friday, May 14.
Chad Booc, Roshelle Mae C. Porcadilla, Benito Bay-ao, Segundo Milong, Jomar Benag, Esmelito Oribawan, and Moddie Mansimuy-at, collectively known as Bakwit 7, stepped out of the Central Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO-7) headquarters in Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr here around 6:30 pm Friday.
In a press conference held shortly after, Booc, a volunteer Lumad teacher, said the dismissal of complaints filed against them was a testament that there was nothing wrong with standing up against injustice.
“Ang pagka-dismiss ng aming kaso ay patunay kanang na walang mali sa ating ginhawa, walang mali sa paglaban. May mali kaya lumalaban tayo. At patunay lamang na illegal ang ginhawa ang estado,” he said.
(The dismissal of the complaints filed against us is a testament that there is nothing wrong with what we are doing. There’s nothing wrong with fighting back. We are fighting precisely because something is wrong. And it is also a testament that what the state is doing is illegal.)
“Kulungin man nila tayo nang maraming beses, patahimikin man tayo, mas dapat nating magpumiglas. Mas dapat tayong lumaban,” he added.
(They may jail us multiple times, silence us, all the more reason for us to move. All the more reason for us to resist.)
Lawyers and members of human rights groups waited for their release since 9 am Friday.
Among the reasons for the delay of the release was the time it took PRO7 police to confirm the validity of the resolution released by the Davao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
The dismissal order was issued on May 5. The National Union of People’s Laywers, legal counsel of six of the delegates apart from Porcadilla, said they received their copy of the dismissal on Tuesday, May 11.
After the release order was verified, police had to bring six delegates, apart from Booc, to PRO-7 to process their release documents. Only Booc was detained at PRO-7.
The rest were detained in separate cells at different police stations in the city.
Bakwit 7, as they were dubbed, is comprised of three Lumad students, two Lumad datus, and two volunteer teachers. They were arrested during a police operation on a bakwit school in the University of San Carlos- Talamban Campus in February 15.
They were accused of training Lumad students into child rebels. The Society of the Divine Word and the University of San Carlos administration have belied these claims, saying the Lumads were in Cebu to continue their education. – Rappler.com