Cops sue Bayan Muna lawmaker for illegal detention, child abuse over Manobo row
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Police authorities here on Tuesday filed serious illegal detention and child abuse complaints against Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate and several militant and lumad leaders at the prosecutor’s office.
The complaints were based on an affidavit signed by a 14-year old girl and her mother. The militant group Karapatan earlier claimed that the girl was raped by soldiers and was among those who fled Talaingod, Davao del Norte, due to militarization.
But Mayor Rodrigo Duterte came to Zarate’s defense.
“Zarate has nothing to do with it. He was there to check and talk to the lumad,” Duterte told reporters on Tuesday night.
In the charge sheet, SPO1 Ronilo Tirasol of the San Pedro Police Station here, said “an investigation of the case was conducted” and pieces of “evidence and documents” were found to sustain the case against Zarate, lumad leaders Kerlan Fanagel and Datu Ginumao Andil, militant leaders Sheena Duazo, Tony Salubre and Joel Virador, and two others.
In her complaint, the 14-year-old girl said she had wanted to go home to Talaingod along with her parents but those who were running Haran, a facility operated by the United Church of Christ of the Philippines here, would not allow her and other Manobo lumads to do so.
She also claimed they were not even allowed outside the facility.
The girl’s mother said militants brought her and her daughter to United Church of Christ of the Philippines’ Haran Center on July 7 to help them file complaints against a soldier, who abused the 14-year old.
The mother and daughter were spirited away from the Haran Center by North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, who led the “rescue” of the lumad on July 23. The incident ended in violence when Catamco, along with policemen, forcibly entered the Haran Center.
Weeks after the Haran “rescue,” the girl now claims that they were held there against their will.
Zarate said he has not received a copy of the complaint yet.
“I was informed by Davao media friends that charges of serious illegal detention and child abuse (in relation to the situation of the bakwits who sought sanctuary at UCCP-Haran compound) were filed today against me and several others at the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.
But Zarate said the charges were trumped-up and “part of the continuing vilification campaign against those who support the legitimate cause of the lumad bakwits.”
“The people behind these charges are the same reactionary elements behind the misrepresentation of the findings of UN Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani, who said that the bakwits are not trafficked persons and were in fact manipulated to return to their communities against their will,” Zarate said.
He said despite the filing of the complaint, he would continue to stand up for the case of the lumad.
“These manipulators are mistaken if they believed that these false charges will deter or scare us in pursuing our advocacies, particularly the defense and advancement of human rights,” Zarate added. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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