Parents whose children were once or still part of the communist rebellion vowed to continue their fight and raise awareness that youth recruitment into the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) exists.
Therese Fuentes, a member of Hands Off Our Children group, said her son Francis Ern Mariveles was a 16-year-old student when he first joined Anakbayan – three months before his freshman year in college.
Five years since the recruitment, the last she heard of her son was his membership to the CPP-NPA.
In a briefing last Wednesday, Fuentes showed a photo she got on social media, bearing the image of her armed son together with four more people similarly holding rifles.
“Kung makita niyo po ang anak ko dugyot na, payat na ang anak ko (If you ever see my son now, he looks untidy and thin),” she lamented. “Kung hindi ko pa nakita ‘yong video na iyon hindi ko malalaman na naging NPA na pala ang anak ko (Had I missed that video, I wouldn’t know that he joined the NPA).”
Fuentes said she already lost contact with her son but her mind is still filled with questions on Francis’ condition.
“Ngayon hindi ko na alam kung nasaan ang anak ko, isipin niyo kung gaano kasakit at gaano kahirap sa isang nanay na hindi niya alam kung anong nangyayari sa anak niya (I don’t have a clue where my son is now, you can’t imagine how hard for a mother to not know her child’s whereabouts),” she said.
“Sa bawat balitang sasabihin na may engkuwentro, na may namatay, lalaki, babae, kung kayo ay magulang na katulad namin, ano ‘yong mararamdaman niyo (It’s hard to watch the news whenever a report of an encounter would come in if you’re a parent like me how would you feel)?” she added.
Anabelle Sabado, a member of the Hands Off Our Children group, once shared a similar story with Fuentes when her son Christian, who is now home, went to the mountains to join the movement and raised arms against the government.
“Narito ako bilang patunay na ang mga front organizations na ito, sila po ang nag-rerecruit o nanlilinlang sa mga kabataan upang mahubog at sumampa sa bundok o yakapin ang armadong pakikibaka (I’m a witness that these front organizations, they are the ones recruiting and deceiving the youth to participate in the underground movement),” she said.
Christian was recruited as a finance officer by the NPA, but last year, he decided to abandon the group for good.
Despite getting her son back, Sabado said she would continue the advocacy she started with the Hands Off Our Children group to raise awareness that there are groups that act as “front” for the communist armed movement.
In 2019, parents have come together to establish the group and join the campaign that seeks to help families looking for their loved ones who have been recruited into such organizations. (pna.gov.ph)