Mar 14, 2021 @ 17:00

Sinas accused of telling Lumad girl that knowing her Miranda rights means she will ‘become NPA’

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Debold Sinas allegedly told a 16-year old Lumad student “rescued” from the University of San Carlos (USC) Talamban campus that knowing her Miranda rights meant she was turning into a New People’s Army (NPA) member, according to the records of a successful habeas corpus petition that set her free from detention by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 Judge Leah Geraldez on March 11 ordered the immediate release of the Lumad student and her return to the custody of her father, who filed the petition for the writ of habeas corpus.

The girl was one of the 22 students whom the police claimed to have “rescued” in an operation at the Lumad Bakwit School in USC Talamban on February 15.

Records showed that the father tried to visit his daughter on February 26, but was told by DSWD employees that he was not allowed to visit. With the help of Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago and the Save Our Schools Network, he obtained permission from DSWD Region VII Director Rebecca Geamala. He was then able to talk to his daughter and four of her classmates for a few minutes.

The father observed that the daughter became thin and she and her classmates kept crying as he talked to them. The girl told her father that she felt afraid and uncomfortable inside the DSWD premises and was still traumatized because of her supposed “rescue.”

The girl also told her father that “she was threatened by PNP Chief Debold Sinas when the latter visited them because she invoked her Miranda rights.”

“PNP Chief Sinas told her that her invocation of the Miranda rights was the start of her path to becoming an NPA and that they will start fighting each other in the mountains in 10-15 years,” read the decision.

The Miranda rights refer to the requirement that a person in custody by authorities be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel.

The father tried to visit his daughter the next day, but the police had surrounded and taken over the control of the DSWD VII Crisis Intervention Center, where the Lumad students were detained.

The court, however, ordered the girl’s release as it found “no factual and legal basis for the confinement.

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