Executive Judge Emmanuel Carpio ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 11 (DSWD-11) to produce the 12 minors rescued from the group of Bayan Muna president Satur Ocampo in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, last week.
Judge Carpio on Monday granted a writ of habeas corpus filed by lawyers of parents of the 12 minors who were handed over to the DSWD-11 following the arrest of Ocampo, Act Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and 16 others consisting of a school administrator and teachers of the Salugpungan Community Learning Center (SCLC) in Talaingod.
The writ was filed by Dodong Padon, Duliroy Langayed, Winilin Tugonon, Kori Salangani, Pina Langayed, David Moral Sr., Alona Marcelino, Sanny Magao, Bricely Padon, Marecyl Abear and Emeliana F Padron. They were assisted by lawyers Mary Ann Arnado and Manuel Quibod of the Ateneo Legal Aid Office.
In the court order, DSWD-11 Director Mercedita Jabagat, and the DSWD employees operating the Home for Girls and Women (HGW) were directed to produce the persons of Honey Blase Padon, Sarah Mansimoy-at, Leyan Ambowat, Meshel Salangani, Elita Manlingkaw, Mena L Loloran, Angelika Moral, Jie An V Marcelino, Lorna M Manizales, Beverly M Padon, Doris Abear, and Marife Padon.
The court noted that the petitioners–who identified themselves as parents or guardians–tried to secure the release of their children or wards last Saturday but failed.
It said that DSWD employees “unlawfully refused to release the said minor children to the petitioners who traveled from their respective residences coming from Sultan Kudarat; Talaingod, Davao del Norte; Arakan, North Cotabato; and, Zamboanga del Sur to Davao City to take the rightful and lawful custody of the said children”.
The 12 girls were among the 14 children who were rescued on November 28 together with their teachers, school administrators, and staff of the Salugpungan Community Learning Center–Dulyan and Nasilaban campuses–in Talaingod town.
The children and the officials were held at the checkpoint in Barangay Sto Nino, Talaingod, manned by police and some soldiers of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion.
The petitioners insisted their children are not members–or were recruited by– armed elements such as the New People’s Army (NPA). They claimed the DSWD holding the children in their custody is a violation of the Family Code and other relevant laws on children.
In its statement issued Tuesday, DSWD-11 admitted it took custody of the 14 children. The agency said the 12 girls are staying at the DSWD Home for Girls in Maa, Davao City, while the two boys were brought to the Home for the Aged in Tagum City.
DSWD said the children were turned over to the agency by the Talaingod’s Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO).
DSWD said the children underwent psychosocial interventions such as counseling, art therapy, and journal writing.
“The parents of all 14 children have already visited them and have already talked to them. They have also already spoken with the social workers handling the case,” the statement said. (Lilian C Mellejor/PNA)