Lumad students who are staying at University of San Carlos (USC) who fled their ancestral domains due to threats, and intensified military presence were taken while Lumad teachers and tribal leaders were arrested by police.
According to the Save our School (SOS) network, the students and teachers sought refuge at USC due to threats by military and paramilitary forces in their community.
“The USC had shown solidarity to the Lumad by permitting the use of their campus as Bakwit School and sanctuary, and this continues in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated in a statement by SOS network.
On the other hand, the Philippine National Police (PNP) claims that they rescued the Lumad students from “revolutionary training as future armed combatants” according to the official statement they released after the raid.
University of San Carlos disputed this, questioning the necessity of “rescuing”, bringing police officers, and using brute force as plans are already underway to facilitate the safe return of the Lumad students after completing their modular courses.
The Save Our School Network however refutes the claim that the incident is a rescue operation.
“Time and again, police and officials mouth the words “rescue” but this disturbed the peace of Lumad evacuees and students, just as what happened in UCCP Haran in Davao last 2015 and January 2020, ” SOS said in a statement.
The Lumad students who completed their modular courses in April 2020 were supposed to return to their ancestral domains but due to COVID-19 restrictions. USC took the initiative to shelter the students until restrictions are loosened or lifted off in which they have immediately made plans to facilitate the safe return of the students, and teachers.