Police removed a group of lumad students from a university campus in Cebu City in what they described as a rescue mission but was condemned by activists as an illegal operation. Video footage of the incident went viral on Monday.
Twenty-one students, 15 of whom are minors, were turned over to state social workers after they were taken from the University of San Carlos Talamban Campus, said the Save Our Schools Network.
Seven others were taken and will be charged with kidnapping, said Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo, the Central Visayas regional police chief. The group supposedly exploited the lumad students for donation drives and protests, he said.
Montejo said the children's parents sought help from police after they were separated from their children for two years.
The University of San Carlos, the religious institution that has been housing the Bakwit school since 2019, will also be investigated, he said. Bakwit refers to refugees of armed conflict.
Save Our Schools Network, the group where the arrested teachers and volunteers came from said it was a "bogus and fake rescue operation". The PNP leadership said these claims were "malicious".
Since 2019, the Cebu Bakwit School has been housing students, teachers, and parents from different lumad schools in Mindanao as military presence in their areas forced schools to close.
Among the arrested teachers was Chad Booc, a UP Diliman graduate who, upon completing his Computer Science education, immediately served as a volunteer Lumad school teacher.
Former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño, along with members of UP community, condemned the arrests of Booc and his colleagues, saying they were not "terrorists".
Bayan Muna Representatives Eufemia Cullamat and Carlos Zarate said they would seek an investigation into the incident.