CHARGES for child abuse have been filed against former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and 15 others for taking Lumad children in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and encouraging them to join anti-government rallies, the Police Regional Office 11 reported yesterday.
According to PRO11 director Chief Superintendent Marcelo C. Morales, Ocampo and company were charged with violation of Republic Act 7610 before the Tagum City Provincial Prosecutor’s Office 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Apart from Ocamp and Castro, the others charged were school administrator Meggie Nolasco, Pastor Edgar Ugal, Rev. Ryan Magpayo, Pastor Eller Ordeza and Rev. Jurie Jaime of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, teachers Maria Concepcion Ibarra, Jenevive Paraba, Nerhaya Talledo, Maricel Andagkit, Marcial Rendon, Ariel Ansan, Marianne Aga, Nerfa Awing and Wingwing Dansay and party-list staff Jesus Modamo and Maryro Poquita.
Morales said that the suspects were leading members of the National Solidarity Mission, ACT Teachers and Katribu who were intercepted by soldiers and policemen manning a checkpoint in Barangay Sto Niño in Talaingod town 10 p.m. Wednesday. The lawmen were joined by representatives from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development.
On board 5 rented vans, the accused were found with several individuals, mostly minors who happened to be students of the Salugpungan School located in Sitio Dulyan, Bgy. Palma Gil in Talaingod that was padlocked early this year by Indigenous People or IP leaders in the area and the Department of Education.
According to Morales, they have received complaints from the tribal leaders that the group of Ocampo was pulling out children almost every night without the permission of their parents.
“There were reports that the children were taught with false ideals at school, far from the mandates of the DepEd. Also, allegedly these groups are using the children to be with them to rally against the government,” he said.
Morales emphasized that “the PNP will continue to uphold the rights of the child and protect them against group or individuals who continuously abused the vulnerability of our Lumad children.”
The arrest of Ocampo came nearly four months after the PNP launched a manhunt for him and fellow former lawmakers Teddy Casino, Rafael Mariano, and Liza Maza in connection with a case filed against them 12 years ago.
The four were charged with conspiring to kill two people in 2003 and 2004. However, the charges filed against the accused were dismissed by the Palayan City Regional Trial Court Branch 40 in Nueva Ecija which also quashed the warrant of arrest issued against them last August 8.