Makabayan bloc wants House probe on ‘rescue’ of lumads in Cebu City
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc have filed a resolution urging the House committee on human rights to “condemn and investigate” what they called “violent raid and arrest” of indigenous peoples (IPs) in a university in Talamban, Cebu City.
In filing House Resolution No. 1590, the lawmakers said the raid conducted by the police is “highly condemnable.”
“It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people, to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations committed against them, especially in this time of crisis,” they added.
“Laws and rules should serve the interest of our people, and should not be weaponized to suppress their rights and oppress them,” the lawmakers said.
The Makabayan bloc is composed of party-list Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
Nineteen minors, two volunteer teachers, and five lumad leaders were taken by the police in what authorities say was a “rescue operation” on February 15, according to Save Our Schools Network, which is composed of nongovernment organizations and groups advocating for children’s right to education.
Central Visayas police chief Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo earlier said the operation was launched after the parents of some of the children sought the help of authorities.
“Accordingly (sic) these children were taken by group members without their parents’ consent,” Montejo said in a press conference on Monday.
“Their children underwent indoctrination and [were] asked to attend rallies,” he added.
However, the Makabayan bloc noted that video recordings of the incident showed “manhandling and use of force” by the police against the “visibly terrified lumad evacuees.”
The Commission on Human Rights has already launched an investigation into the police operation in Cebu City.
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