OPENING STATEMENT: This hearing is about protecting the basic unit of our society, the Filipino family

(Opening statement of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on 14 August 2019 at the second hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on Resolution No. 38 “on the missing minors who are allegedly recruited by leftist groups as their members and fighters”)

Today we continue with our hearing on the plight of mothers whose children have been recruited by leftist groups. From last week’s hearing, the Kabataan Partylist and its affiliated organizations primarily Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students, had publicly labelled these proceedings as harassment to critics of the administration. This however runs contrary to the statements of the parents who were merely fighting for their children. They are not here because the groups who have allegedly recruited their children are critics of the administration. They are here voluntarily because their children are being coddled by those organizations and they have grown desperate because their pleas have not been heeded by the said groups.

We also would like to address the issue that this hearing is meant to suppress student activism. To say that is a mockery to the parents who willingly exposed themselves publicly, risking public scrutiny of their personal lives and probably putting into question their parenting. A parent can never be faulted for wanting to be with their children and clearly, these parents are just longing to reclaim their child as what has been denied to them after their joining the leftist groups. Let me state that this hearing is about protecting the basic unit of our society, the Filipino family. As a Senator of the Republic and as a parent myself, I am convinced that I am called upon to protect the Filipino family as the basic social institution and to ensure that this institution remains intact. From the testimonies of the resource persons last week, we have been able to establish the following:

1.That groups like Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students and other affiliate organizations of Kabataan Partylist have been actively recruiting in schools even without the consent of school authorities and the parents of their recruits. We have heard from the parent’s testimonies that their children, as young as 16 years old were recruited without their knowledge. We have also noted statements from school authorities that some of these organizations are not accredited in the schools they were recruiting in, such as the case of Far Eastern University and University of the East.

  1. That the abovementioned groups have facilitated the participation of their young recruits to rallies, community immersions, group studies etc without getting permission from the school much more their parents.

3.That, based on the parents’ testimony, all of their children, after having joined such group, have noticed a change in their behavior particularly becoming very agitated and hateful of the government. They have also observed paranoia on the part of their children on the belief that they are being followed by government agents.

  1. That the recruited children eventually left their homes, despite their parents’ disapproval, even to the point of escaping so that they can join the said groups. After abandoning their families, the children severed communication with their parents. Each of the parent, except for one, has no knowledge of the whereabouts of their children.

I would like to point out that while the previous testimonies are not yet conclusive, the fears of the parents are not without basis. They do not want to see the names of their children reported in the news DEAD because they became armed fighters of the New People’s Army. Media outlets have reported deaths of students from skirmishes with our security forces. Is it purely incidental that these students were members of the same leftist organizations that the missing students were recruited into?

  1. John Carlo Capistrano who died in Luisiana, Laguna last February 14, 2019 was a member of Anakbayan UPLB
  2. Guiller Martin Cadano who died in Carrangian, Nueva Ecija last September 20, 2017 was a member of Kabataan Partylist UP Manila

3.Josephine Lapira who died in Nasugbu, Batangas last November 28, 2017 was a member of Gabriela Youth UP Manila

  1. Remy Beraye who died in Capiz last November 7, 2017 was a member of League of Filipino Students in Western Visayas State University

These are just a few of those who died, notwithstanding those that were arrested or those still with the terrorist group.

For today, we have invited other resource persons for us to understand the predicament of the parents and enlighten us with insights on what legislation can be done to make sure that our students are protected and that parents and schools can work hand in hand to ensure a bright future for our young people. I look forward to the testimonies of our resource persons today and may we have a fruitful day ahead of us.