The chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday backed the social workers and the police who rescued the indigenous peoples (IP) children inside a retreat house owned by the University of San Carlos (USC)-Talamban Campus in Cebu City early this week.
Gen. Debold Sinas came to Cebu to speak with the 19 IP children who along with their parents, are undergoing stress debriefing by social workers of the city and the municipality of Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.
Sinas said the PNP is unfazed by the move of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives to investigate the rescue operation of 19 IP students of the Lumad Bakwit School at the USC campus and the arrest of seven persons.
The police, he said, will not engage the communist group in its allegation that there was no rescue, but arrest, inside the university campus.
Sinas said the Feb. 15 incident stemmed from the complaints of the IP parents that their children were brought to Cebu by Salugpungan teachers and coordinators without their consent.
“As chief PNP, I will not allow the communist terrorist groups to take advantage of the vulnerable indigenous communities and their children who are considered as the leftist’s last bastion for deception, manipulation, and terror acts in their attempt to overthrow the government,” he said.
Sinas expressed his full support to the police in the region who did their job to rescue and protect the IP children from further harm and danger in the hands of their captors.
He will also not budge on the call of the Makabayan group to relieve all the policemen in Police Regional Office Central Visayas (PRO-7) involved in the rescue operation, saying he will wait for the proper complaint and answer them in the proper forum.
Sinas said part of the stress debriefing of the IP children is to allow them to roam around Cebu through an appreciation tour and enjoy the sceneries before going home to their respective communities in Mindanao.
The children, he said, were held inside the retreat house and not allowed to go out.
A police report said of the 19 rescued IP students, 15 are minors — nine are from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, five from Sultan Kudarat, and one from Zamboanga. Their ages are said to be between 14 and 17 years. The four others, of Talaingod, Davao del Norte are above 18 years old.
The children were reportedly taken away from their families by teachers of Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanogon without the parents’ consent.
Sinas said the seven suspects will remain in Cebu despite the filing of cases against them before the Davao Del Norte Provincial Prosecutors’ Office in Tagum City on Wednesday.
The charges filed by the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) are kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and qualified trafficking in persons against two Bakwit School teachers, three adult IP students, and two IP elders. SOVEREIGNPH