By Lade Jean Kabagani
MANILA–Anti-communist groups on Monday called on the government to localize peace negotiations with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines-(CPP-NPA-NDFP).
The League of Parents of the Philippines (LPP), Hands-Off Our Children, and La Liga Independencia, with several mothers of recruited students who are now full-time members of various militant groups, staged a rally in front of the Department of the Labor and Employment (DOLE), urging the government to push for a localized peace talks with communist movement.
LPP spokesperson Remy Rosadio said they are calling on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to address the communist insurgency and curb recruitment among the youth by listening to the sentiments of the parents whose children are now in the hands of the NPAs.
“We are asking Secretary Bello to help us bring back our children before pursuing any peace negotiations with the communists. Bring back all those students who’ve been recruited by the communist-leaning organizations,” she said.
On Mar. 18, 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved the national government’s negotiating peace panel, led by Bello, following the moribund talks with NDF leaders.
The President, however, announced on April 4, 2019, his plan to re-open talks with the communist movement by creating a military-led peace panel.
Rosadio cited Section 6 of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms (CASER)-a precondition for the resumption of the talks, which she said, seems to deny the right of the parents over their children.
Section 6 states that “the parties shall encourage the right of the children to self-organization. Children shall be encouraged to participate in collective efforts to protect their interests and that of their communities, without precluding parental guidance of such initiatives and efforts.”
Rosadio said this provision dismisses the Filipino family values as the communist-leaning groups continue to provide wrong ideologies to their children.
“Para kasing ang nangyayari, yung CASER na yan na inilabas nila ay pabor lahat sa NPA at hindi sa mga mamamayang Pilipino. Lalo na hindi para sa aming mga magulang na nawalan ng mga anak, na na-recruit ng mga leftist organizations, yung front ng CPP-NPA (It seems the CASER is in favor of the NPAs and not with the Filipino people, especially not with us parents who’ve lost their children, whose children were recruited by the leftist organizations, those front organizations of CPP-NPA),” she added.
She said they will exert more pressure on every institution just to end the communists’ recruitment of the youth.
“We don’t want this to happen to other children in the future,” she said.
Rosadio said the government should resume the peace negotiations with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison in the Philippines.
“We, the parents, also wanted to talk to Joma Sison face-to-face. We have so many questions: Why do they insist our children to be recruited in communist-leaning organizations? Why not their children? Why not destroy their family? Why do they need to bring our children in the mountains?” she said.
Relissa Lucena, a mother of a student recruited by militant youth group Anakbayan, said her daughter was filled with anger against the government after she had an “educational discussion” inside the university where she was enrolled.
Lucena reported to the authorities that her daughter did not come home for three days. Her daughter got mad at her mother for reporting her missing to the police and the university.
She said her daughter eventually left their home and joined Anakbayan.
“Ang sabi niya kalaban na daw ako at natatakot na siya sa safety niya, sa safety namin. Hindi ko alam kung paano ko siya ililigtas? Hindi ko alam kung anong gagawin (She said I was her enemy and she’s scared about her safety, our safety. I don’t know how to save her. I don’t know what to do),” she said, adding that she misses her daughter a lot.
She said she went through a lot just to locate her daughter until they appeared before a Senate hearing,
“Ang sakit-sakit kasi habang nasa Senate ako, inilabas nila yung anak sa Congress. Simula noon hanggang ngayon hindi ko pa nakikita ang anak ko (It was very painful when I was in the Senate, they presented my daughter in the Congress. Since then, I haven’t seen my daughter),” Lucena said.
She urged Communist-front organizations to return their recruited children back to their families.
“I am requesting you to stop playing with our family. Stop using our children. If you want a war, bring your family, your children to the mountains, not our children. We will not stop condemning you until you’ll stop recruiting innocent children,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rosadio called on Bello to listen to the sentiments of the anti-communist groups and to the parents whose children were recruited by the communists.
“Secretary Bello, please give us a time for you to listen to our sides. You should not only protect the side of the NPAs, but also consider us. You are too a parent. We hope you also understand our pains, it is painful for us knowing that our children have been recruited just to be brought to the mountains,” she said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)