MANILA – Around 300 participants, mostly parents, staged a peaceful rally in Manila on Thursday to spread awareness on the deceptive recruitments of minors by alleged communist front groups.
Parents whose children were taken away by youth organizations Anakbayan and Kabataan backed up the mothers who previously appeared in public to share their struggles and seek help to claim their daughters recruited by the leftist groups.
Elvie Caalaman said her daughter, who graduated from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, shared the same fate as the mothers whom she watched during a recent Senate hearing.
Caalaman was accompanied by other parents from Hands Off our Children and League of Parents in the Philippines (LPP) during the rally, which started in front of the University of Santo Tomas and ended at the Mendiola Bridge.
Relissa Lucena, who was among the first mothers who sought help from authorities to have her daughter, Alicia, back, is also part of the group.
“Pumunta talaga kami doon sa hearing para maghanap ng tulong at para maglakas loob din ang ibang mga magulang na umapela para sa kaligtasan at seguridad ng kanilang mga anak (We went to the hearing to seek help and at the same time, encourage other parents who lost their children as well to show up),” she said.
Meanwhile, a bystander who was accompanying his first-year senior high school son attending Far Eastern University (FEU) shared in an interview that he supports the participants’ call to spread awareness to other parents and students.
“I support them but at the same time, I think it is our responsibility as parents to guide and protect our children from these elements,” the parent, who requested not to be named said, adding that he is familiar with the issue because he was involved with student activism before as well.
“In my time as student, I too, joined these activist groups because may mga gawain din ang gobyerno na hindi ako pabor pero tumigil din ako kasi nakita ko (na) walang patutunguhan, hindi nakakatulong (there are things that I am not in favor that the government does but I eventually quit because it’s going nowhere),” he explained.
The parents’ group, however, clarified that they are aware that activism is not a crime, but expressed dismay on how some activist groups led students to join the communist armed rebellion.
“Magsisimula silang magpukaw ng damdamin sa pamamagitan ng mga issues na malalapit sa kabataan gaya ng tuition hike, away sa pamilya. Kakaibiganin nila sila. Kalaunan, gagawin nilang mga pambansang usapin at ang pinakadulo nito ay paglatag sa armadong pakikibaka at pagsapi sa NPA na s’yang tanging solusyon sa pambansang krisis (They will get their attention with smaller issues like tuition (fee) hike, family misunderstandings. They bond with them as friends then scale up the discussion to bigger, of national concern issues. Then, they introduce issues on armed conflict, joining the NPA),” LPP Secretary General Grace Ibona said. (PNA / )