Rescued IP child affirms “parents clueless on transfer to Cebu”
By Jan Vincent Leuterio / Philippine Information Agency
DAVAO DEL NORTE – One of the rescued IP children affirmed during a recent Press Conference that their parents were clueless about their transfer to Cebu.
A former Salungpungan named Larry Mandacawan, one of the thirteen IP children present during the special edition of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) virtual press conference dubbed "TAGGED: Debunking lies by telling the truth" held at Provincial Pavilion, Tagum City, Davao del Norte on May 27, 2021 echoed that their parents only gave consent for them to be brought to Haran for education, not to Cebu.
In an earlier ‘Press Conference on Case Update of Rescued IP Children’ on May 18, 2021 at the same venue, the parents of the IP children claimed that they were misled by a group of people from Haran who approached them asking them to sign, through thumbmark, an acceptance form consenting for their children to be brought to Haran for 2 months of schooling.
In this earlier press conference, it was revealed that an IP mother named Samana Mandacawan died due to depression after losing contact with her child.
Larry Mandacawan is the son of Samana Madacawan and Datu Butigon Mandacawan.
Larry said that since leaving Talaingod, they (the IP children) were not able to see their parents until they were returned home after the rescue.
Bae Pilar Libayao, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, said the parents came to her for help in finding their children.
"Bakit ganoon ang ginawa sa mga tao ko? Bakit pinapirma ang mga magulang ng hindi nila alam ang sinasabi (Why did they do this to my people? They were made to sign something that they do not understand)?” Libayao asked.
Adding to his account, Larry said that throughout this time, they were not allowed to use cellphones except when they were in the University of San Carlos during weekends. He revealed that in the university, they were taught to go against the government.
“Gi tudlo-an mi nila nga protektahan ang yutang kabilin para dili ma kuha sa gobyerno (They taught us to protect the ancestral domain from the government),” he added.
Reacting to this, NTF-ELCAC Executive Director and NCIP Chairperson, Sec. Allen Capuyan said, “talagang ni-radicalize ang kanilang isipan (they [CTG] really radicalized the minds of the IP children).”
Larry recalled being deployed to rallies, and that despite having conducted fundraising activities, were still living in poor housing condition eating "asin (salt)" for meals.
With this, having previously announced that the NTF-ELCAC will continue pursuing legal action against Bakwit School 7, NTF-ELCAC Spokesperson on Legal Affairs and IP concerns, Atty. Marlon Bosantog, maintained that crimes were committed particularly child abuse, illegal detention, and trafficking.
He added that they have also filed cases for violations of International Humanitarian Law for turning IP minors into child warriors. This is in addition to the case filed against Bakwit School 7 for violation of the IPRA law, which was announced by Sec. Capuyan in the said earlier press conference.
Earlier this month of May, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Norte dismissed Bakwit School 7’s criminal charges for “lack of probable cause, and lack of jurisdiction”. Earlier this year, 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. (Jan Vincent Leuterio/PIA-XI)