NTF-ELCAC vows to continue legal action against Bakwit School 7

DAVAO DEL NORTE, May 19 (PIA) – "These are the findings that we do not agree with, and we will look for our remedies, either to file a motion of reconsideration or to refile the case," said Legal Cooperation Cluster spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Atty. Marlon Bosantog during the ‘Press Conference on Case Update of Rescued IP Children’ on May 18, 2021 at the Provincial Pavilion, Tagum City.

Bosantog’s statement comes after the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Norte recently dismissed Bakwit School 7’s criminal charges for “lack of probable cause, and lack of territorial jurisdiction” as stated in the resolution dated May 5, 2021 and ordered the immediate release of the respondents on May 14, 2021.

Among the charges cleared from the respondents are kidnapping, serious illegal detention, human trafficking, and child abuse.

The seven were arrested during what the authorities call as a “rescue operation” of 19 IP minors from a retreat house inside the University of San Carlos (USC) Talamban campus on Feb. 15, 2021.

NTF-ELCAC Spokesperson Usec. Lorraine Marie T. Badoy echoed Bosantog’s statement, “Huwag silang [Communist Terrorist Group] mag diwang. In fact, mag malungkot sila ngayon kase ready’ng ready ang gobyerno para panalunin ang kaso na ito (They shouldn’t celebrate yet. In fact, they should start to worry since the government is more determined to win this case).”

NTF-ELCAC Executive Director Sec. Allen Capuyan said that a case will be filed against the Bakwit School 7 for the violation of the rights of the IPs under the Indigenous People Republic Act (IPRA), or Republic Act 8371.

“Mas sobra pa to sa kidnapping. Kase tinanggal mo sa tribo ang karapatan niya para mabuhay ayon sa kanilang kalooban (This is worse than kidnapping. You removed the rights of the IPs to live how they want to),” he elaborated.

Bosantog echoed that this is a “separate and distinct offense” from the initial case that was dismissed.

Capuyan explained that one cannot simply take a child or youth away from their community without the approval of the parents.

Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders and Leaders (MIPCEL) Chairman Joel Unad, who translated in Tagalog the account of the IP parents, said that the people from Haran took advantage of the parents’ lack of education and made them sign an acceptance form that they were not able to read, and that they were promised the children will be returned home after 2 months of schooling; however, the children were never returned for years until the said rescue mission in Cebu, to which the parents were surprised to find out since they were not told in the first place that the children would be brought to Cebu.

The parents of the IP minors maintained that they were deceived by the people who took their children from Talaingod to Cebu.

These accounts and statements were made during the ‘Press Conference on Case Update of Rescued IP Children’ on May 18, 2021 at the Provincial Pavilion, Tagum City with Sec. Capuyan and Usec. Badoy attending in person while Atty. Bosantog attended through Zoom. (Jan Vincent Leuterio/PIA-XI)





Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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