Senator Bong Go sought answers on the two “missing” students allegedly recruited by leftist groups during the joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, and the National Defense and Security. Go sits as vice chair of both committees.
During the Senate hearing, parents of five senior high school students from various universities lamented that their children have gone missing to join leftist groups, such as Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), and Kabataan Party-list.
One of the parents, Relissa Lucena, said that she enrolled her daughter at a private university precisely to keep her away from leftist groups. However, on the first week of classes, she was told by her daughter that she was already a member of Anakbayan and that she would be attending rallies.
Senator Bato dela Rosa opened the session by discussing the cases of the deaths of student activists and emphasizing the nature of organizations they were members of, such as Anakbayan, LFS, Gabriela Youth and Kabataan Party-list.
Meanwhile, Go recounted his experience with President Rodrigo Duterte, then Davao City mayor, on the retrieval of hostages held by fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the mountains. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)
“Around fifty times na kami umakyat ni Pangulong Duterte para kumuha ng sundalo o pulis na naging hostage o bihag ng mga makakaliwang grupo,” the legislator said during the hearing.
The lawmaker also noted that some of the student protesters who usually hold rallies in the streets are the same ones who go to the mountains, neglecting their studies and putting their lives in danger.
“‘Yung mga nakikita ko nagra-rally sa daan, sila rin yung nasa bundok. ‘Wag tayo magkunwari,” the senator said.
“Base lang po sa aking experience, alam naman natin na halos lahat ng nasa taas na sinasabi niyo nasa eskwelahan, kadalasan aktibista at nasa daan nagra-rally,” he added.
Go then went on to ask how these students are convinced to join leftist groups.
“Ang tanong, bakit kayo nakukumbinsi? Paano sila nakukumbinsi? Bakit sila nag-aaral sa urban areas at nakukumbinsi na umakyat sa bundok? Until now, ‘yun talaga ang nangyayari,” he added.
“Poor students join leftist groups because they are promised scholarships.”
Alvin Turero, one of the former leftist members present during the hearing, said that poor students join leftist groups because they are promised scholarships at the University of the Philippines and Polytechnic University of the Philippines if they would join rallies.
“Bilang organizer ng Kabataan Party, makukuha namin based po dun sa kahirapan upang mapaaral sila sa UP o PUP. Nasusundot po namin sila doon,” Turero said.
“During skirmishes with the army, we are often abandoned.”
However, during skirmishes with the Army, he noted that they are often abandoned, saying “iniwanan po kami sa labanan. Akala ko ba bato ang aking sinasandalan pero bakit sa ganitong klase ng labanan ay ako’y tinalikuran?”
During the hearing, Turero also expressed his regret about joining the leftist group.
“Ang gusto ko lang naman po bumuti ang buhay ko. Pero, sinamantala naman po ito ng CPP. Ni-recruit nila ako hanggang sa nangre-recruit na rin ako,” he said.
One of the former rebels who also attended the hearing was Agnes Reano. Asked by Senator Panfilo Lacson what her life became when she was recruited by the front organization until the time she became a fulltime member of the NPA, Reano said: “Noong ma-recruit po ako nung first year, estudyante po ako by day, NPA by night.”