Bukidnon IP parents want NPA to return their children

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 — Three parents who belong to the Umayamnon indigenous peoples’ group have called on the New People’s Army (NPA) to return their children, whom they believed were recruited by the rebels.
The parents, known only as couple Lolita and Durno and Boy, expressed their desire to see their children again during a radio station interview in Valencia City on Monday.

The parents traveled from Cabanglasan town to Valencia City to seek help from radio stations, hoping they could get their message out to the rebels.

A radio station, DXDB, gave them the opportunity to speak out.

Lolita, 58, and Durno, 64, said that their 26-year-old daughter Jemma was enrolled at Bukidnon State University sometime in 2015 but had stopped going to classes because of financial problems and suddenly disappeared two days after quitting school.

They said that they didn’t have any knowledge of her whereabouts until they received a phone call from an unknown number confirming that Jemma was in the hands of the NPA.

Lolita begged her daughter to return home.

“Jemma, if you are listening, please come home now. The government has already a program for you and your comrades. I don’t know if I have a grandchild from you, you don’t know how we miss you,” she said over the radio in the dialect.

Lolita said she received information that Jemma was already married to an NPA commander named “Haki.”

Meanwhile, Boy (42) also shared how her 16-year-old daughter Rosemarie was forced to join the NPA.

In 2017, when Rosemarie was still 14 years old, Boy said his daughter ran away to avoid an arranged marriage. He said he only learned that his daughter had been recruited to the NPA when he got a phone call from an unknown number.

“My child, I am very sorry about our misunderstanding, I don’t know how you are doing there, please come home! Our local leaders promised to help us, I want to see and guide you living here,” Boy said.

‘Hands off our children’

The calls of the three IP parents are part of the growing number of parents in the country who are taking the initiative to secure the return of their children from NPA custody.

According to most of these parents, their children are believed to be influenced and recruited by organizations that served as “fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the NPA.

In August this year, the parents formed a movement called “Hands Off Our Children” that began documenting their search for their children on Facebook.

A Facebook post on Monday featured a 10-minute video of six parents recalling how their children were recruited by Kabataan and Anakbayan, youth-based leftist organizations that are active in campuses.

All of the parents shared common experiences relating how their children had gone missing after being recruited by the leftist organizations.

Luisa Espina, a representative for the group, said that her daughter Louvaine has been missing since 2018. She said her daughter joined Anakbayan and after being “indoctrinated,” eventually joined the “armed movement” — another term for the NPA.

“Until when Anakbayan will return our children to us?” she said in the video. “Are they going to let them return for a short while and then they will take them back again?”

She was referring to earlier testimonies from other parents in the video that the groups are controlling the movements of their children.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

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