/ 17 February 2021

THE UNIVERSITY of San Carlos and the Societas Verbi Divini Philippines Southern Province raised concerns over the police operation conducted in a Lumad Bakwit School in the USC-Talamban campus in Cebu.

USC President Fr. Narciso Cellan Jr., and Fr. Rogelio Bag-ao of SVD said there was no need for the police to rescue the children because the Lumad students were staying in the campus due to pandemic restrictions.

The SVD is the congregation that supervises the USC.

“After being locked down, the SVD Community has since sheltered the delegation at its retreat house, providing them with comfortable accommodation, and allowing them the use of its facilities,” they said in a statement.

The priests said plans were made for the safe return of the Lumad minors to their homes when the quarantine restrictions loosened.

“Because the return necessitated logistical preparations to be made and entailed costs such as those relating to the swab tests, fare and food allowance, the travel of the delegation was planned to be carried out in batches,” they explained.

They said that four “delegates” have returned home and another batch was scheduled this week.

The SVD and USC said they were surprised by the police operation.

“While COSA (Archdiocese of Cebu-Commission on Social Advocacies) mentioned that some parents were coming over to fetch their children, it didn’t dawn on us that the parents’ visit will necessitate the presence of policemen,” they said.

Members of the Police Regional Office 7 and officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Monday entered the campus and arrested 25 individuals, including teachers, Lumad students, and Lumad elders.