Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año
MANILA – The battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has further strengthened the government’s resolve against communist terrorist groups (CTGs) as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) calls on leftist groups to free Alice Jasper “AJ” Lucena and other recruited youth “from the virus of communist terrorism.”
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año renewed this call on Saturday as the Supreme Court (SC) en banc directed leftist leaders to respond to the Show Cause Order issued on May 19 against respondents Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday, Anakbayan recruiters and members Chary delos Reyes, Bianca Gacos, and Jayroven Ballais Villafuerte, and lawyer Maria Kristina Conti.
The Show Cause Order was issued after the May 8 filing of petitions for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus and amparo by Francis and Relissa Lucena, the parents of AJ, against the respondents.
AJ, now 18 years old, was a minor two years ago when she was recruited by leftist youth organizations and had been missing since July 2019. In August 2019, AJ spoke in a press conference held by leftist lawmakers in Congress, saying she voluntarily joined the CTGs.
“These CTGs cannot justify their recruitment of minors and child warriors which is a clear violation of international law. They cannot wash their hands of the brainwashing activities they do to mislead the youth towards communist terrorism,” Año said.
“Kayong CTGs ang limang dekada nang peste sa lipunan. Mas matindi pa kayo sa Covid-19. Pinapatay niyo ang kinabukasan ng kabataan at dinudurog ninyo ang puso ng mga magulang na nawawalan ng mga anak,” he said.
( You CTGs are pestering society for five decades. You are worse than Covid-19. You are killing the future of the youth and you’re crushing the hears of the parents who lost their children.)
“You infect and contaminate our youth with your pretentious and false notion of nationalism. Kaya kayo hindi nagtatagumpay ay dahil hindi totoong para sa bayan ang inyong adhikain (You are not succeeding because you have a bogus cause). Stop spreading the virus of communist terrorism,” he added.
He also called on the youth to “maintain distancing, physically and online, from these leftist groups. Sanitize yourself of their polluted beliefs.”
He said that the DILG, a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), lauds the Lucena couple for filing the petitions before the Supreme Court.
“The DILG, together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), supports the Lucena couple in their unceasing efforts to get back their daughter from the custody of CTGs. As the law says, the family, being the foundation of the nation, is a basic social institution that public policy cherishes and protects. To the Lucena couple, we are behind you in our common fight against the recruitment of minors by the communist terrorist groups,” he said.
The lawyer of the Lucena couple contends that AJ’s life, liberty, and security were violated when she was a minor and is aggravated by the occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic because she has no proper support, has become an out-of-school youth, and has no gainful employment.
The suit also sought a court order directing and ordering the immediate transfer of AJ to the care and custody of her parents in compliance with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, compelling everyone to stay at home with their families.
Año assured them that the DILG will help in getting AJ back to her parents in compliance with the law and Constitution which states that the natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the government.
The Constitution also mandates the State to promote and protect the youth’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. (IA/PNA)