"Talaingod 18" to file counter-charges vs cops, military for illegal arrest, detention
Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Saturnino Ocampo and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro on Sunday vowed to file charges against the police and military who arrested and detained them in Davao del Norte.
Ocampo, Castro, and their 16 other companions, now called as the "Talaingod 18," were freed on Saturday night, two days after they were apprehended and detained for alleged human trafficking and kidnapping.
Castro, in a press conference in Quezon City, said their camp is set to file counter-charges, such as arbitrary detention, illegal arrest, and graft, against the police and military officers involved in the incident.
"What they did is very arbitrary, illegal detention and warrantless arrest. They did not even listen to our side. Our legal team is studying other cases (to be filed)," she said.
Castro said they were detained even if there were no formal charges filed against them.
On the claim of the police that their group was getting children almost every night without the permission of their parents, she said there is no need for that as parents of the students from Salugpongan Ta'Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center had given their consent at the start of the school year.
"At the start of classes, they already signed (consent). That's a parent and school teacher agreement, parental consent was already given to teachers," she explained.
Castro said that even the three children told the authorities that they were not forced to go with their group.
Aside from Ocampo and Castro, the other individuals who were arrested and detained by the police were Meggie Nolasco, Pastor Edgar Ugal, Rev. Ryan Magpayo, Pastor Eller Ordeza, Rev. Jurie Jaime, Maria Concepcion Ibarra, Jenevive Paraba, Nerhaya Talledo, Maricel Andagkit, Marcial Rendon, Ariel Ansan, Mariane Aga, Nerfa Awing, Wingwing Dansay, Jesus Modamo and Maryro Poquita. They were under the group National Solidarity Mission.
Castro said they went to Davao del Norte to respond to the incident of food blockade and harassment being conducted by the military in the community school.
"That is the reason why me and Ka Satur were there, to respond on the on-going food blockade of the military," she said.
"According to teachers, they were forced to leave because of the extreme threat (from the military)," she added.
For his part, Ocampo said they asked permission from the local officials in Davao del Norte to conduct a humanitarian mission in the said lumad school but they did not receive any response.
"It's already 5 o' clock, offices were closed. We did not get any help," he said.
Ocampo said it was already 6pm when they reached the community school where they saw the students and teachers walking in the dark road after the military closed down the said school.
"They asked for help. Quick reaction from us, rescue, we meet the teachers and students, they were forced to leave," he said.
The rescued teachers and students were supposed to be brought to Salugpongan Learning Center in Tagum City when they were stopped by the authorities at the checkpoint.
Ocampo added he sought the help of former Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go when they were already facing the police officers.
"I called Bong Go, I told him what happened. I let him talked with the deputy chief. We were forced to go to the police station just for the children to breathe," he said.
"The next day when we got arrested, I did not receive any response from Bong Go," he added.
Ocampo's team was released from detention on Saturday night after posting bail of P1.44 million or P80 million for each of them. Ella Dionisio/DMS