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Bishop Pabillo on Ash Wednesday: Speak out for Lumad arrested in Cebu

Feb 17, 2021, Robbin M. Dagle

MANILA, Philippines

The outspoken Bishop Broderick Pabillo is the latest church leader to push back against the ‘red-tagging’ and arrest of the Lumad

Bishop Broderick Pabillo opened the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 17, by urging Christians to lend their voices to those in need, including the Lumad students and teachers recently arrested in Cebu. 

The outspoken Pabillo, acting head of the Archdiocese of Manila, is the latest church leader to push back against the “red-tagging” and arrest of the Lumad who were part of the “bakwit school” program.

Isa ring mahalaga sa alay-kapwa ay pagbigay ng ating boses sa nangangailangan ng ating boses (Another important aspect of offering oneself is giving voice to those who need it),” Pabillo said in his Ash Wednesday homily aired over church-run Radyo Veritas.

So hindi naman tama ‘yun, na imbis na i-appreciate na natutulungan ‘yung mga Lumad na mga taga-Mindanao, sinira ang mga eskuwelahan nila, at tinuturuan doon, aakusahan pa ngayon (It is not right that instead of appreciating that the Lumad from Mindanao are being helped and taught after their schools were destroyed, they are still accused),” the prelate said.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma earlier co-signed a statement defending the Lumads’ presence inside University of San Carlos (USC)-Talamban.

On February 15, at least 26 Lumad students, teachers, and elders staying at the USC-Talamban campus were taken into custody by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Central Visayas.

A video posted by Save Our Schools (SOS) Network shows the Lumad children screaming as the police took them away.

Police claimed that this was part of a “rescue” operation for children, whom they allege were undergoing “warfare training” by elements affiliated with the New People’s Army. PNP chief Police General Debold Sinas said it was the children’s parents who asked help from the Davao del Norte local government to “locate” their “missing” children.  

The USC administration has denied this claim. A joint statement by the Archdiocese of Cebu, the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) Philippines Southern Province, and USC administration clarified that the “bakwit school” program was initiated by the Archdiocese of Cebu-Commission on Social Advocacies with the SOS Network.

“Here, no rescue need ever be conducted because the presence of the Lumads in the retreat house was for their welfare and well-being, and all throughout, they were nurtured, cared for, and treated with their best interest in mind,” the joint statement read. – Rappler.com

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