Accusations of red-tagging directed at government, especially the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) will not go away in the near future and perhaps never.
We saw this during the Soberano and Locsin controversy and the recent unilateral revocation of the University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense (UP-DND) accord by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
We saw it when I raised the issue over the Inquirer’s Tetch Tupas’ narrative on the Aetas false claim while the Supreme Court petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) is ongoing.
We saw it again in the operation to rescue the minor children of indigenous peoples at the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu.
So why won’t it stop? The simple commonsensical answer is because it is the only defense left for the left, and those they use, to advance their agenda.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances that led to this Cebu USC Talamban rescue operation and see how they are all connected, by simple backtracking until we reach the point of its beginnings — Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
For it genesis, the controversial Cebu incident started when a group of Manobo parents in Talaingod, Davao del Norte began looking for their children who had been separated from them for two years or more.
These Ata-Manobo parents sought the help of authorities in Davao, particularly the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Regional Task Force (RTF)-Elcac 11.
This led the RTF Elcac 11 to take action, which brought them to Talamban, Cebu City. As result, 19 minor Manobo children were rescued while two of their alleged “teachers,” including a certain Chad Booc, and two elders, were arrested.
Predictably, USC president, Fr. Narciso Cellan SVD, of course defended the school, saying that the children had consent from the parents and that they were being taken care of and fed properly, especially during the lockdown.
If that were so, why were the parents complaining that their children were missing? In fact, the complainant-parents made sure they were present during the rescue to dispel insinuations that the rescue was without basis.
To be clear, Executive Order 209 signed by then President Cory Aquino, promulgated the Family Code of the Philippines which defined the family as a basic social institution. Title IX of the code defines parental authority and responsibility which may not be renounced or transferred except in cases authorized by law (Art. 210).
The suspension or termination of this parental authority can happen only: upon the death of parents; upon the death of a child; or upon emancipation of the child (Art. 228).
I am not a lawyer, but, clearly, the Code would tell us that the “improvised surrogates” of those minor Ata-Manobo children have a lot to explain for usurping the authority of the parents, whom they claimed had given their consent for their children’s education, even outside of Davao del Norte where they were expected to be moved.
Even if these children were fed fried chicken or with their favorite food everyday, given the best accommodation for a comfortable stay, that will not justify the fact that there are these parents who were disenfranchised when these individuals and organizations created by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) took their children away from them.
Assuming they are getting the best education not available to them in Talaingod, even discounting the possibility that they are exploiting these children for their communist agenda, that doesn’t justify their separating them from their parents or legal guardians, much more without the existence, nay any semblance, of judicial authority.
Let us refresh our memory with the controversial human trafficking case of Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna, ACT Rep. France Castro, and others who were caught red-handed transporting minor children from Talaingod, Davao de Oro in 2018. Bae Pilar Libayao, the matriarch of the Manobo tribe in Talaingod, lectured them on the nuances of the Manobo culture and on their violations of the law on child exploitation.
Earlier, the Department of Education closed down the Salugpungan Ta ta’nu Igkanugon Learning Centers in Davao del Norte for their failure to comply with DepEd requirements. It was also established during a series of public hearings that these alternative learning centers were established by the CPP to develop cadres for the New People’s Army (NPA). They were using a curriculum and manuals from IBON Foundation designed by the CPP to radicalize the students.
Some are even run by school administrators who are spouses of top CPP cadres in Mindanao. Mica Caspe, @Daday, the party wife of the notorious CPP-NPA leader, the late Fr. Frank Navarro, was a coordinator of one of these schools, the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev).
So, who is this teacher Chad Booc who is now being defended by all these front organizations? Just like Caspe, Booc is in fact another CPP operative working in the CPP Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., one of the alternative learning institutions for the IPs. He was a “volunteer teacher” of Alcadev and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur. According to his fellow cadres in the CPP, Booc started early in the underground as a member of Kabataang Makabayan or KM during his student days at the UP College of Engineering.
Is Booc an activist until now? Yes. But is he someone else in the context of the Anti-Terrorism Act? Yes, he is now a criminal because he went beyond what is protected by the law and the Constitution.
The CPP’s “revolutionary dual tactics” allowed him to expand his clout in the above ground, fighting for his advocacy, getting funding from foreign donors, while, at the same time, radicalizing Manobo children and pushing them to join the NPA as underground operatives.
He has been recruiting for the CPP-NPA terrorist organization which makes him liable under the ATA. He is doubly liable for doing this to minor children.
Going back to the question: why wouldn’t they stop accusing the government of red-tagging, again, now with the arrest of Booc? Because that’s the only alibi left for them. They continue to accuse the government of political persecution and avoid the issue of human trafficking which has left them defenseless, by any standard.
By the way, what are the other possible violations of the USC in this “bakwit” issue? They admitted to conducting face to face classes during the lockdown. Aren’t they violating the anti-Covid protocols?
Have the school administrators violated Bayanihan Act 2 (Republic Act 11494) in particular for the interventions needed in the delivery of education? Second, are these classes sanctioned by DepEd?