Court dismisses human trafficking case against Datu, 2 teachers

This article is available in Pilipino

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 2 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte on June 20 dismissed the human trafficking case against Datu Benito Bay-ao, and teachers Chad Booc and Gelijurain Ngujo II. The court also ordered the immediate release of Bay-ao who is detained at the Davao del Norte Provincial Center. Booc and Ngujo along with three others were massacred by soldiers of the 10th ID in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Davao de Oro on February 24, 2022.

The human trafficking case stemmed from Datu Bay-ao, as well as Booc and Ngujo, accompanying Lumad students in Cebu in May 2021. According to the court, the prosecution failed to prove that Datu Bay-ao intended recruit the children into armed activities of the New People’s Army, and instead, he was simply accompanying the children.

Bay-ao’s lawyers from the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) welcomed the dismissal of the case, which affirms Bay-ao’s innocence.

“This victory is not only for Datu Bay-ao but also for all those seeking justice against the fabricated accusations and injustice of the system,” the UPLM said. “The dismissal serves as a reminder of the power of collective effort in attaining justice.”

According to Gabriela Southern Mindanao, it is clear that the case is to pressure Datu Bay-ao especially since he is known as a defender and representative of the Lumad sector, which has long been neglected by the state.

AB: Court dismisses human trafficking case against Datu, 2 teachers