MANILA -- A ranking official from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) on Friday said leftist-group Bayan Muna is skirting again around the issue of recruitment of young people, when it claimed that there are no missing minors to speak of and that these students are of legal age and have willingly joined Anakbayan and other militant organizations.
Major General Antonio Parlade Jr., in a statement, said claims that the missing minors just ran away due to family-related problems is lousy and is only being used as an excuse by Bayan Muna party-list leaders to avoid the Senate hearing convened to look into the issue.
"To highlight that the matter on the missing activists was about family and private issues is a lame excuse, Rep. (Carlos) Zarate and Mr. (Neri) Colmenares. That's what happens when you skirt around a very important hearing such as the safety of missing children," he added.
Face the truth
Parlade, who is also Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, said these party-list groups' leaders or their representatives must make an effort to attend the Senate hearing so that they can personally hear from the mothers of the missing minors who are feared recruited into the communist terrorist ranks, that there no family quarrels or squabbles to speak off.
He challenged militant group leaders to hear from witnesses and resource persons on how the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) commit atrocities like killing their loved ones, using police uniforms to get themselves new recruits for their causeless fight.
"Listen how they manipulate fellow students' hardship in life and offer them false promises of scholarship in UP (University of the Philippines) and PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines), but led them instead to the mountains after becoming LFS (League of Filipino Students) members, then the underground Kabataang Makabayan, and finally integrated into the NPA, in your classic arouse, organize, mobilize (AOM) methodology," Parlade added.
He further slammed Bayan Muna's justification of the recruitment of minors into the communist terrorist ranks and dismissing the Senate probe as their own blood and kin are living and studying comfortably abroad while their cadres are living a miserable existence in the forests and hills.
"Family issues? Maybe you have none of it as your families live in affluence, studying abroad, living comfortable lives, and enjoying the perks of a Bayan Muna representative, while your pawns in the NPA have become miserable and cannot even avail of proper medical needs," he added.
Why send a spy?
Parlade also chided the militants for having the temerity of using a "Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan" (KARATULA) member to spy on the proceedings instead of personally attending the hearing so that they can get first-hand information on the proceedings and the resources persons giving their statements to the committee.
"They are all in the transcript and I'm sure you are studying it. But if you only waived a simple parliamentary courtesy and heeded the invitation, rather than send a spy, using a KARATULA member, Michael Beltran, to take pictures of the former rebels being presented as reference persons, then all these ambiguity is resolved, in favor of those on the side of truth," he added.
Had these party-list representatives decided to come, Parlade said Zarate and other Bayan Muna leaders would have learned the truth about the 24 missing students from the Far Eastern University (FEU).
"Had you come, you should have known, honorable Rep. Zarate, that what I posted last April was true, and not figments of the AFP's imagination. Alicia Lucena, who was then only 16, and so with 23 other missing students from FEU, when their parents begged for our help. You successfully presented the two missing kids yesterday, and you wanted the people to believe that this case is closed? That the AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) only conspired with the good senators to red-tag Kamatayan (Makabayan) bloc. What about the 8,635 children that the CPP recruited as of September 2015? This is not over until 8,000 mothers stop grieving in silence when you present them, hopefully still full of life," he said.
Bring the kids back
Parlade also challenged the militants, especially those from the "Kamatayan (Makabayan) bloc", to present these minors alive and healthy and state for themselves that they simply ran away from their parents because of some "family issues.
"You cannot deny that because that figure was not plucked from thin air. It is from the files of captured CPP cadre Vic Ladlad. It is not 'planted evidence' but is part of the CPPs 'People's Academy' strategy to boost the support of Makabayan Bloc in the last elections. You asked for the recruitment of 20,000 to 40,000 Anakbayan members aged 13 to 35 to support your candidacies? he added.
He also called these progressive groups "hypocrites" for recruiting these minors only to let them die needlessly and purposelessly.
"You are indeed hypocrites to call yourselves 'Makabayan', while you push these kids to the cliff and die. With your armed Red fighters between them and the ocean, do you think these children will have any choice?" he said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency