By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The Save Our Schools Network (SOS Network Cebu) heightened the call to release the seven Lumad students, chieftain and volunteer teachers being detained in Cebu City, as the health of two of them drastically worsened this weekend.
The group attributed the detainees’ physical deterioration to the “dire jail conditions and inhumane treatment” by police. SOS Network Cebu also revealed that the police detention centers have not provided food for the detainees, aside from the jails being “crowded and too small.”
Esmelito Oribawan, 19, a Grade 10 student of the Lumad bakwit school could no longer stand or speak when he was visited by his mother on March 20. On March 18, he vomited blood and complained of difficulty breathing, said the group, but was only given hot water and vitamins by jail guards.
Last night at 8:29 P.M., police eventually brought Oribawan to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) for a blood test. But they also brought him back in detention after a doctor diagnosed that it was only an antibacterial infection and prescribed him antibiotics.
Another detainee, Manobo datu (chieftain) Benito Bay-ao, has a worsening cough, but has been refused medical attention, said SOS Network. Bay-ao is detained at the Cebu City Police Station 2. SOS Network Cebu said there is no proper toilet or water supply in the detention area.
The group also decried the tedious process that the detention officers require before looking into the ill detainees’ condition.
“The SOS team requested immediate medical attention (for Oribawan) but were turned down by the police, stating various flimsy excuses such as that a letter was necessary. And when a letter was procured by the team, they alleged that an e-signed letter could not be accepted,” said the group.
The five others detained are: students Moodie Mansimuy-at and Jomar Benag, Datu Segundo Melong, and volunteer teachers Chad Booc and Roshelle Porcadilla. The seven are collectively dubbed “Bakwit School 7.”
The seven are charged with kidnapping ang serious illegal detention, following the Cebu police raid on the bakwit school inside the University of San Carlos-Talamban campus on Feb. 15. Various groups have called for the dropping of these trumped-up charges and the release of the seven.
Since March 2, the seven were separated into different police stations for detention: Bay-ao is at the Abellan Police Station (PS 2); Oribawan at the Carbon Police station (PS 5); Melong at the Mabolo Police Station (PS 4); Benag at the Parian police station (PS 1); Mansimuy-at at the Waterfront police station (PS 5); Booc at the PNP Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) in Camp Sergio Osmeña; Porcadilla at the Cebu City Police Station (CCPO).
“It is a clear effort of the police to isolate the Bakwit School 7 so that they can intensify efforts to intimidate, harass, and even psychologically torture them,” SOS Network Cebu said.
SOS Cebu told Bulatlat that while their team and the relatives of the seven are being restricted by police in their visits, former Lumad school scholars and pro-military datus were given free access to them.
“There have also been several attempts from elements of the NTF-ELCAC and former MISFI scholars who betrayed the Lumad Jords Diarog, Jovanie Diarog, Niel Calig-on, Fatima Napigkit, and Ariel Ansan to coerce the detained, especially the Lumad students and Teacher Roshelle, to speak against the Bakwit School and testify that they were only being used. Those coercing and harassing them are also the same people who are currently being used by the PNP and the NTF-ELCAC to spread lies about the bakwit School,” the group said.
No food provision
SOS Network Cebu also decried the jail officers’ “intentional neglect” of the seven detainees. The group said they are the one providing them daily meals since February.
“Throughout the 34 days that the Bakwit School 7 have been detained, there is no provision of food for any of the detained in any of the police stations, despite that the police are supposed to provide these basic needs,” said the group.
Meanwhile, jail guards at the CCPO told Porcadilla’s mother on March 20 that she will not be allowed to bring food to her daughter.
“Teacher Roshelle’s mother asserted that she wanted to continue to send food to her daughter in order to know that she is eating well and to be able to see her every day,” said SOS Network Cebu.