DAVAO CITY – The Regional Trial Court (RTC) here has issued an arrest warrant against six officials of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Center in relation to child abuse cases.
Copy of the warrant of arrest (WOA) provided to News Fort identified the respondents as Bishop Hamuel Tequis, Reverend Daniel Palicte, Ephraim Malazarte, PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao secretary-general Jong Monzon, Lindy Trenilla, and Grace Avila.
The WOA was issued on April 21 by Judge Dante Baguio of RTC Branch 12. The six Haran Center administrators have been charged with two counts of violation of Republic Act 7610 or Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination (Anti-Child abuse law).
The court however, has set P80,000 bail each for two counts of said case for their temporary release.
The cases stemmed from the criminal cases filed by four members of an Indigenous Peoples (IP) group from Davao del Norte before the City Prosecutor’s Office in September 2020 against some leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA), and the administrators of the UCCP Haran Center.
The complainants are members of the Ata-Manobo Tribe who were minors at the time of the commission of the crime . They complained that the accused Haran executives are harbouring communist terrorist groups (CTG). They also claimed they were forced to engage in armed activities, forced labor, and armed conflict.
They also accused the Haran officials for involuntary servitude and for other exploitative purposes.
It can be recalled that in January of last year, the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) 11 passed a resolution calling for the immediate closure of the Haran evacuation center where a number of IPs have been taking shelter since May 2015.
The RPOC had said Haran center operators have committed various criminal offenses, including serious illegal detention, child abuse, and human trafficking.
Meanwhile, Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 director Brigadier General Filmore Escobal has welcomed this recent development over the issue of Haran.
“Finally the efforts of National Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC)’s Legal Cooperation Cluster has moved forward towards delivering justice to the IPs particularly those innocent children who died and exploited by fake revolutionaries happening inside UCCP Haran center right at the very noses of the administrators of this bogus evacuation center,” Escobal told News Fort.
The warrant of arrest means probable cause was established to hold them answerable to the injustices they committed against the IPs, Escobal said.