[Statement] on the forceful taking of the lumad children and red-tagging of their counsel, Children’s Legal Bureau | ALG
Statement of the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) on the forceful taking of the lumad children and red-tagging of their counsel, Children’s Legal Bureau
The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) strongly denounces the red-tagging of the Children’s Legal Bureau, Inc. (CLB), a member of the ALG, and the act of government agencies involved in seizing Lumad children in the University of San Carlos (USC) Talamban on Feb. 15, 2021.
The incident concerns members of the Lumad Bakwit School, children and their teachers alike, that were unlawfully arrested in the USC Talamban campus in Cebu City. This was conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Cebu City Department of Social Welfare and Services.
The PNP issued a statement alleging that the children were first “lured to enroll with communist front” and then brought to Cebu City to “undergo revolutionary training as future armed combatants.” They claimed it was a “rescue” operation for Lumad children studying in the Lumad Bakwit School. In truth, the children taken are refugees from militarized areas of Mindanao that are seeking education they do not have access to.
In a statement issued by the CLB, an ALG member that represents seven of the Lumad children, they have indicated that the forceful taking of the children were “unnecessary and uncalled for” because the children were not in a dangerous situation. They further added that greater prudence could have been practiced by the government agencies if the children’s best interest were put first. To add to this grave misconduct by the government, CLB was recently red-tagged in a public poster seen in Mandaue City, Cebu by a certain People for Peace Coalition-Central Visayas.
Chad Errol Booc, volunteer teacher for Math and Science with the Lumad Bakwit School, was among those arrested. Chad along with other indigenous leaders who have long-suffered from red-tagging are assailing the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law.
The ALG is alarmed by these incidents that further reinforce the fear of progressive organizations and indigenous peoples that the Anti-Terror Law will be used as a political tool to suppress human rights and other liberties.
The ALG stands by the CLB, the Lumad children and their parents, and the indigenous peoples community and advocates that walk with them. We call on the government to take actions so that the agencies concerned be held accountable. We also continue the call to junk terror law as it only further sows a culture of fear, violence, and impunity.
Alternative Law Groups
Ateneo Human Rights Center
Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc. – ELAC
ERDA Foundation, Inc.
Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc – HLAF
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
Process Foundation Panay,inc
Rainbow Rights Philippines
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB
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