Statement of RTF6-ELCAC on the rescue of the IP children in Cebu City and their Reunification
The press statements issued by various groups that criticize the anti-human trafficking rescue operations conducted by the inter-agency task group on February 15, 2021, in Cebu City failed to mention and highlight the fact that the parents of the minors who were subject of the rescue operations were present during the operations and were in fact, the private complainants and the aggrieved parties in the said anti-human trafficking operations.
Those who claim that the rescue operation undertaken by the joint interagency task group was fake are either ignorant of the antecedent facts leading to the rescue operations,
ignorant of the laws on child protection
ignorant of this country's expanded anti-human trafficking laws; and
ignorant of the parents' plight, suffering, and emotional distress when their children were taken from their custody and wherein their children were transported to Cebu City WITHOUT THEIR EXPRESS OR IMPLIED CONSENT BY PERSONS WHO ARE NOT EVEN AUTHORIZED TO TRANSPORT THESE CHILDREN.
Be reminded that being a member of an NGO or an organization, however cute or charitable the name of the organization is, DOES NOT AND WILL NOT VEST UPON any person the AUTHORITY TO REPLACE THE PARENTAL AUTHORITY OF THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS OF A CHILD.
On this aspect alone, the COLLABORATING institutions where the rescue operations took place should have undertaken measures to check, verify, confirm, and validate if the minor "delegates" were allowed by their parents to join the "delegation." Any assumption to this effect is beyond ordinary oversight; it is reckless, irresponsible, and will definitely warrant the fact that these institutions will have a lot of explaining to do as to why there are trafficked children on their premises and facilities.
Those who say that the rescued children were saved from conflict in Mindanao are those who have not spoken to the parents of the rescued children. The fact remains that these children were taken away from their parents. Let us focus on the undeniable fact that the rescue operation's primary goal is to reunite the children with their parents.
On this point, the government agencies have succeeded. Those who think otherwise are either dumb or dimwits.
Some say, Let the Children Speak.
We say, let the PARENTS SPEAK OUT FIRST.
Listen to the indigenous parents whose children were taken away from them.
What would YOU DO if it is your child who was taken away from you?
And when you get reunited with your child, somebody will tell you, let your child speak... as if the child has a choice to leave his parents and decide to go with a group without his parents' consent. This is not how families work.
We already have an instance when a child refused to return home, and somebody told the mother of that child,
"Dumaan lang sila sa inyo, hindi nyo sila pag-aari..." and other nonsense statements that could only come out of a deeply troubled and radicalized mind reminiscent of the brainwashing tactics of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas that turned children into cold-blooded killers.
The children will speak…
but after the necessary psycho-social intervention. We need to be certain how their absence from their families affected them and their frame of mind.
Please DO NOT USE THE CHILDREN against their parents. That is something that WE CANNOT ALLOW. The Indigenous Families must be allowed to be reunited, and nothing must get in between. The only opinion that matters now is the indigenous mothers and fathers whose children were just returned to them.
THE REST of the so called NGOs and organizations collaborating with these NGOs have no right to interfere in the affairs of the indigenous families who have just recovered their most precious treasures in life, their children.
Those who blame the government and the military for the conflict in Mindanao.
Think again, that is, if you know exactly what THINKING IS.
Isn't it that the real cause of the problem is the CPP-NPA?
Imagine MINDANAO without the terrorist groups, including the CPP-NPA.
MINDANAO would be paradise (almost) on earth, as would the rest of this country.
Those who say that the indigenous peoples are victims of oppression and injustice,
Indigenous children are being forcibly recruited by the CPP-NPA to be child warriors.
This is real injustice.
This is real oppression.
We challenge the NCCP, the CBCP, and the rest of the organizations who cannot understand what a rescue operation is in the context of the enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws,
CONDEMN the CPP-NPA and their pseudo legal fronts for the atrocities that they have committed against the Lumads of Mindanao.
Condemn the CPP-NPA's recruitment of indigenous children as child warriors.
If you cannot, and if you will not, you simply lost that moral high ground.
You condemn the reunification of indigenous parents with children who were separated from them without their consent.
But you cannot condemn the exploitation and oppression of the indigenous children by the CPP-NPA who recruits them to be made into child soldiers.
Something is wrong here.
Is this is the case with you?
There may be a need for you to
rethink your values and your convictions. This is the best time to contemplate the consequences of your actions.
To our counterparts in Regions 11 and 7, we salute you for your commitment and dedication. We are proud of your accomplishments.
Thank you for bringing together the indigenous families once more.
We remain your committed partners in Ending the Local Communist Armed Conflict
Flosemer Chris Gonzales
Chairperson, Legal Cooperation Cluster 6