DAVAO CITY -- Police and military authorities have held for questioning former party-list representative Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro in Talaingod, Davao del Norte since Wednesday evening.
Chief Insp. Jason Baria, Police Regional Office 11 (Davao) spokesperson, confirmed on Thursday that Ocampo, Castro, 17 adults and 14 minors are being held for possible breach of the Republic Act No. 7610, a law that provides special protection against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.
Ocampo and Castro were in town following reports that children and teachers of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning School in Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil, were fleeing due to alleged forcible closure of the schools.
Karapatan said the rescue of the children were part of its "National Humanitarian Mission" in Talaingod.
Karapatan has demanded the immediate release of members of the mission and the Lumad students and teachers who were fleeing military operations from the custody of the Talaingod police.
Karapatan claimed there were at least 79 individuals, including 29 students and 12 teachers, of the Lumad schools who are being held by the police, the Army's 56th Infantry Battalion, and Talaingod's Municipal Social Work and Development Office.
However, Baria said there were only 14 minors and 19 adults.
The incident has raised concerns from local officials and even in nearby Compostela Valley province.
Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy confirmed he received a report of five vans traveling to Talaingod with minors coming from the different provinces in Mindanao.
Uy said he was worried about the welfare of the children, adding that a mother came up to him to report that her child who was part of the Karapatan's "humanitarian mission" has been missing for five days.
"I thank the authorities for they were able to flag down the vehicles and found the children," the governor said in a press briefing on the sidelines of the Kultura Mindanao launch in Davao City Thursday.
Uy also condemned the group that brought the children in Talaingod, a known hotspot for New People's Army (NPA) activities. (/PNA)