Mothers of minors allegedly recruited by leftist groups turn emotional at Senate hearing
Robie de Guzman • August 7, 2019 • 2077
MANILA, Philippines – Several mothers of missing students who were allegedly recruited by leftist groups turned emotional when they testified and narrated their ordeal before a Senate panel on Wednesday.
Among them were Luisa Espina, Gemma Labsan, Relissa Lucena and Jovita Antoniano who recounted the pain of being abandoned by their children and the changes they saw in them since joining leftist groups like Anakbayan.
According to Espina, her 17-year old daughter, a student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), started not going home when she joined an organization in their school.
They later found out she became a member of the Anakbayan.
“Magmula noong napasok siya diyan sa Anakbayan na yan, nagulo ang utak niya, masyadong magagalitin, kapag dinebate mo siya sa pulitika galit agad siya, kaya di na kami nanunuod ng news sa TV,” she said during a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Public Order & Dangerous Drugs.
Labsan’s 16-year old daughter, a student at the far Eastern University, also left their home when she got recruited to a left-leaning group. She said they found out about it when they saw files about armed conflict and communism on her mobile phone.
“Kinuha ng papa niya ang cellphone niya, nakita po mga files, mga armadong pakikibaka, komunismo po. Nagalit na po kami, nakita ko po dun sa libro duon nakalagay Struggle of Democracy by Joma Sison,” she recounted.
Lucena narrated the same account, saying her daughter left their home after becoming an officer of a leftist organization.
When she did not come home for three days, they reported it to authorities. When her daughter returned home and found out that she went to the police and her school, she even got mad at her mother.
“Sabi niya sa akin full-time na siya siya sa Anakbayan, tapos nung nalaman niya na nagsumbong ako sa PNP at saka sa school, ang sabi po niya sa akin, kalaban na daw po ako,” Lucena said.
“Isipin ko daw na wala na akong anak,” she added.
She said she had tried to get her daughter back home but her efforts were unsuccessful.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it has taken up measures to address the leftist groups’ alleged recruitment of minors in schools, including visitation of campuses every now and then.
It also eyes monitoring teachers who are allegedly requiring students to attend protests in streets.
However, the PUP administration expressed apprehension on issuing a formal order on police visitation in campus.
“Ina-assert po minsan ng faculty o kaya ng ilang estudyante ‘yung mga aktibista na rin na meron silang academic freedom,” PUP president Emmanual de Guzman said during the hearing.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, advised parents to take note of any sudden changes in their children’s behavior and actively monitor their movements in school, whereabouts, and the organizations they are taking part in.
AFP deputy chief of staff for Civil Military Operations MGen. Antonio Parlade also shared some indicators that parents may take note if their children are being recruited to left-leaning groups.
“Marami na silang alibi, marami silang paalam, pupunta kung saan, may field trip duon, sometimes, often these are not sanctioned by school and then organization namin merong pupuntahan. Ito na yung indicators na nagi-immerse na sila, and this immersion, they really meet the armed NPA’s (New People’s Army)” he said.
Based on data from the AFP, at least 513 students have been recruited as combatants by the NPA from 1999 to 2019.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order & Dangerous Drugs, said this report is especially alarming because communist terrorists are recruiting minors as their fighters.
“Alarming in the sense na mga menor de edad ito na dapat nag-aaral. Bakit nasa kalsada? Nabi-brain wash, pinopoison ang utak nitong mga makakaliwa para lumaban sa gobyerno,” he said.
The lawmaker previously cited a statement by the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the Communist Party of the Philippines’ activities to “poison the minds of the children to take up arms against the government,” and teaching them to “join rallies calling for the overthrow of government.”
Washington – Articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were transmitted to the US Senate on Wednesday nearly a month after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to charge the Republican president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The seven “impeachment managers” appointed earlier Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to prosecute the case carried the documents across the Capitol to the Senate.
The Senate majority leader, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, invited the managers to return to the chamber at 12.00 pm Thursday to read the articles of impeachment aloud.
Following the reading of the articles, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is to be sworn-in as the temporary president of the Senate for the duration of the impeachment proceedings.
Roberts will then swear-in the 100 senators as jurors in preparation for the trial, set to begin Tuesday, when the Senate will re-convene after the Jan. 20 holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
“This is a difficult time for our country – but this is precisely the kind of time for which the framers created the Senate. I’m confident this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever, and serve the long-term best interests of our nation,” McConnell said.
“We can do this. And we must,” the majority leader said.
During an earlier signing ceremony, Pelosi said that the House was acting in accord with its “constitutional duty.”
“Today, we will make history, when we walk down – when the managers walk the hall, they will cross a threshold in history, delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of the House,” she said.
“This president will be held accountable,” the California Democrat said hours after the House voted 224-190 vote to send the impeachment articles to the Senate.
Pelosi selected Democrats Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Silvia Garcia as the impeachment managers.
“The emphasis is on litigators,” Pelosi told reporters. “The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom.”
Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required to convict Trump and remove him from office.
Pelosi held back on sending the articles to the Senate because she wanted Republicans there to guarantee that they would allow new witnesses to be called in the trial, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Trump’s current acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.
McConnell, however, wants an expedited process culminating in an all but inevitable acquittal.
Trump is only the third president in history to be impeached after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99, both of whom were acquitted.
The case against Trump unfolded after a complaint by a whistleblower from the intelligence community regarding a telephone call in July 2019 between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the US leader – in exchange for releasing some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and setting up a coveted White House meeting for Zelensky – pressured the Ukrainian to investigate Biden for corruption although no evidence seems to exist on that score.
Trump, however, has consistently claimed that he did nothing wrong and virtually all Republican lawmakers have toed the party line that insufficient evidence of wrongdoing to justify impeachment and removal from office was gathered by House Democrats in their impeachment investigation.
Meanwhile, Trump prohibited administration officials who have inside knowledge of the activities and motivations surrounding the phone call with Zelensky from testifying before the House and also denied Democrats access to documents that might shed light on the matter, and this stonewalling resulted in the passage of the impeachment article regarding obstruction of Congress in its oversight responsibility. EFE
MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel has set a hearing next week to discuss bills seeking to regulate the use of motorcycle as safe and alternative public utility vehicles.
In a statement, Senator Grace Poe said the Senate committee on public service will hold the public hearing on January 14, Tuesday to tackle four bills on motorcycle taxi regulation.
Poe, who heads the panel, said she would also ask for updates from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis which started in June 2019.
“The results of the pilot run will be an important guide for the committee in crafting the final version of the bill,” she said.
“Our ultimate goal is availability, safety and comfort for our riding public,” she added.
Poe also said that the cap set by the regulator on the number of motorcycle taxis and issues concerning ownership will also be tackled in the hearing.
The DOTr Technical Working Group (TWG) on motorcycle taxis earlier announced the extension of the pilot run of motorcycle-ride hailing services.
Aside from Angkas, the extended pilot run will now include JoyRide and Move It.
A cap of 39,000 registered bikers – 10,000 bikers per Transport Network Company (TNC) for Metro Manila and 3,000 bikers each TNC for Metro Cebu operations – was also set.
Angkas questioned the set limit, and claimed there was politics involved in the inclusion of JoyRide in the pilot run.
Poe hopes the hearing will find solutions to issues hounding motorcycle taxis, as well as other problems on the country’s transport system.
“The long lines of commuters waiting for rides leave no doubt that we need alternative public utility vehicles. We hope this hearing will help find solutions to issues on safety, legality and other questions that need to be threshed out towards an efficient transport system as a whole,” she said.
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