Espinoza: Would the police sue USC?

Elias L. Espinoza
·3 min read

THE police's "rescue" of 19 indigenous minors was yesterday's news headline. The word rescue was quoted somehow to underscore the fact that it was not really a rescue operation by the police and the Department of the Social Welfare and Department (DSWD), but could have been the arrest of those who brought in the 19 minors to Cebu city allegedly against their will.

The worse part of the story is that the University of San Carlos (USC) was dragged into the issue for allegedly confining those minor indigenous children from Davao de Oro, but, whose only role, according to its statement, was to provide shelter for the best interest of the lumads.

"It thus, came as a surprise that reports about minors being 'rescued' surfaced today. While Cosa (Commission on Social Advocacies) mentioned that some parents were coming over to fetch their children, it did not dawn on us that the parents' visit will necessitate the presence of policemen. Here, no rescue need ever be conducted because the presence of the 'lumads' in the retreat house was for their welfare and well-being, and all throughout, they were nurtured, cared for and treated with their best interest in mind," the statement reads.

Of course, the policemen, who "raided" the USC's retreat house and "rescued" the lumads, only acted on orders of the higher ups. The six parents from the Manobo tribe in the town of Talaingod, Davao del Norte allegedly sought the help of the town's social welfare and services on their children who went missing. Are we to understand that there was no complaint filed against those responsible in bringing to Cebu City the lumads, who are students?

In an interview by the reporter of SSD, a mother, who requested anonymity, said a group came to their tribe and took their children to continue their education in Davao City after the school in their place was closed by the Department of Education. She said the children have not returned home since they left in 2018. They knew their children are in Cebu City after one of them returned home last month.

Webster dictionary defines "rescue" as "to free from confinement, danger, or evil." The best persons to tell the police and the DSWD if they were confined against their will and that they are in danger or that their confinement was for some evil purpose are the "lumads" themselves. But the police have a different version that these lumads were indoctrinated of the leftist ideology.

Datu Benito Bay-Ao told the press that they came to Cebu after their school in their place was ordered closed by the DSWD and the military allegedly destroyed the school buildings so they came to Cebu for the children to continue their studies. They were supposed to go back home in April 2020 but they can't leave because Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), said Bay-Ao.

Granting for the sake of argument that those minor lumads were held against their will by their teachers and Datu Bay-Ao, was the rescue regular and legal even without the search and arrest order issued by the Court? Consider that the accounts of those present during the "rescue operations" stated that the minors resisted that simply imply they were not confined against their will.

This case will certainly stain the image and stature of USC, whose role was only to accommodate those lumads from Davao, since from what I know, this institution has not been known to be pro-left, or identified to be supporter of the communist ideology. But will the police indict the USC for "confining" those minors?