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‘Bato’ vows clampdown on Leftist groups recruiting minors

NEW People's Army fightersNeophyte Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa yesterday vowed to clamp down on all Leftist groups recruiting minors to be part of their activities as members and fighters.

Dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police chief, made this assurance after hearing the sad tale of the parents whose children are now missing after they reportedly joined organizations that supposedly have links to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army while in school.

“This is very alarming for me. That is why I support proposals for the PNP to intensify their regular visits in all schools and universities,” Dela Rosa said in an interview after the hearing.

Dela Rosa, who now chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, held his first public hearing tackling the case of missing minors who were allegedly recruited by Leftist groups.

The senator said it is imperative “to know the real score” in order to ferret out the truth and, in the end, recommendations would be drafted to ensure “peace in the country, as well as protect and preserve the welfare of our children.”

Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP,  Commission on Higher Education, and other government agencies were present during the hearing. Polytechnic University of the Philippines President Emmanuel de Guzman also attended the hearing.

However, Leftist groups invited by the committee did not attend the probe. These include Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, Kabataan party-list Secretary General Ayna Punzalan, League of Filipino Students  Chairperson Gemma Canalig, and members and officials of Anakbayan.

“We can only go as far as sending invitations, but if they don’t want to come, we respect the interparliamentary protocols. But we are giving them the chance to explain not only to us but to the parents and to the whole Filipino people kung ano ba talaga ang kanilang organisasyon para malaman ng taumbayan kung ang kanila bang organisasyon ay hindi nagsu-supply ng fighters sa NPA,” Dela Rosa pointed out.

“It’s about time – through this hearing – to share the predicament of the parents who are experiencing so much frustration (over their children). It’s about time,” he reiterated.

“There’s no other job more challenging than being a parent. We are the mentor, disciplinarian and our children’s ultimate succor. We raise our kids, nurture them and slowly let them go into the world, trusting they will make good decisions and they will be guided by what we impart and live by,” Dela Rosa pointed out.

“But the world is full of deceit and pure evil. They prey on the idealism of our young children. And they are made to believe government is inutile and the only way to rectify is to join the armed struggle,” he said.

“We send our children to school… then we learn they are no longer in school. Nobody knows where they are until a letter comes or a phone call or worse a coffin arrives,” he lamented. (Hannah Torregoza)

  • Lance Esteban