Police files kidnapping raps against 7 Lumad students, teachers

Volunteer teacher Chad Booc with students and community elders during their inquest proceedings. (Photo courtesy of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Cebu)

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MANILA – Police filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against seven individuals arrested in a raid at the University of San Carlos-Talamban campus in Cebu City on Feb. 15, according to Save our Schools Network (SOS)-Cebu.

Three adult Lumad students, two teachers, and two datus (tribe leaders) were subjected to inquest proceedings online at Police Regional Office- Region 7 at around 11 this morning, Feb 17.

The seven are Grade 10 students Moodie Mansimuy-at and Esmelito Oribawan, Grade 12 student Jomar Benag, volunteer teachers Chad Booc and Roshelle Porcadilla, datus Benito Bay-ao and Segundo Milong.

Their lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-Cebu have not received a copy of the complaint, as of this writing.

“We assert that there is no truth to the charges being filed by the Police Regional Office-7. This is another deplorable attempt of the fascist state to silence the Lumad people from amplifying and forwarding their calls to stop the militarization in their communities,” SOS-Cebu said in a statement.

No basis

Various organizations called for the release of the 26 Lumad arrested on Feb. 15.

“We don’t need more political prisoners to add to the 680 already behind bars on nonbailable yet false charges to keep them in prolonged detention,” said KAPATID Spokesperson Fides Lim in a statement.

“The Lumad students went to Cebu to escape the repression brought about by the militarization in Mindanao only to experience continuing harm. It is the relentless attacks perpetrated by no less than the government that is wreaking violence in the lives of Lumad youths who only seek to go to school and learn,” Lim added.

Students from the University of the Philippines – Diliman also condemned the incident.

Booc graduated cum laude with a degree in Computer Science at UP-Diliman. His thesis, the PsychUP mobile application for the UP Manila psychosocial wellness program, was adopted by the university, and recognized internationally in Greece and Japan.

“Instead of pursuing a career in the city, Chad chose to share his knowledge to the Lumad children who are not only deprived of their education but also their right to their ancestral land,” Raphael Morallo, chairperson UP Engineering Student Council, said during an online press conference on Feb. 16.

Students from the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (Alcadev) called for the immediate release of teachers and their fellow Lumad.

Booc is also a former teacher at Alcadev, a school for the Lumad children in the Caraga region.

SOS-Cebu issued an appeal for donations such as food and clothing for the detained Lumad students, teachers and elders. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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