DSWD worker taunts, threatens Lumad child as she regains freedom
The Lumad child detained at the social work office in Cebu was finally reunited with her father, but not without further threats and taunts from a social worker, an indigenous peoples’ group reported.
After a standoff between Mikaela Dorothy Haictin’s father Lope and the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD)-Central Visayas office last Thursday, the agency reluctantly honored the habeas corpus order of the local court and released her Friday.
But not without social worker Brenda Abilo taunting and threatening the child just before she regained her freedom, the Save Our Schools Network (SOS)-Cebu said.
SOS-Cebu reported Abilo whispered taunts in the child’s ear, sarcastically saying “she hopes that what Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas said about her becoming an armed rebel will not come true.”
“It is deplorable that Brenda Abilo still managed to make this last minute condescending remark despite all that they at the DSWD-7 have done to the children, from their detention and confinement where the children are greatly restricted and prohibited from contacting parents and lawyers, to the DSWD-7’s refusal to implement a court order for the Lumad child’s immediate release,” SOS-Cebu said.
The group added that what Abilo did was to make clear that she and her office red-tagged the child and truly believe that the children are linked to armed groups.
The act put the lives of the children at even greater risk than ever before, SOS-Cebu said.
Mikaela was finally returned to her father Friday after the Court ordered the Sheriff to serve the Order of Release of Mikay from DSWD detention.
The Cebu chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines filed for a Petition for the Issuance of the Writ of Habeas Corpus and subsequently threatened to file contempt charges against Abilo and DSWD Region 7 officials for refusing to heed the release order.
Earlier, former DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo criticized her former colleagues’ “unacceptable” refusal to heed the orders of the court and empathize with the sufferings of the child and her father whose reunion has been blocked again and again.
“The ‘Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles’ reminds social workers to uphold social justice and human rights. They should not be complicit in implementing ‘policies and practices (that) are oppressive, unfair or harmful,’” Taguiwalo said.
Abilo has yet to reply to Kodao’s request for comment. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)