MANILA � Dismayed by the baffling silence of militant women's group, Gabriela, over the cases of missing minors reportedly recruited by Anakbayan in various schools in Metro Manila, a ranking official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) on Tuesday urged the group to take up the cudgels for grieving mothers.
Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., who is also Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, said this lack of response from the group that claims to advocate women's rights and welfare is hard to understand considering that many of them are mothers themselves.
"Amidst this controversy on the missing children recruited by Anakbayan from schools in Manila, Gabriela is surprisingly so quiet. You are mothers too. Say something about the exploitation of these children recruited at ages 16 or even younger. You are showing your true color as allies of Anakbayan and the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) by not standing up in protest, together with the children's grieving mothers," he said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency.
If they are really championing the cause of all Filipino women, Parlade said, then it is high time for Gabriela to stand up for 8,635 mothers grieving over the disappearance of their children so that they can all be safely returned home.
"You claim to defend the rights of women. What happened to you? With your timely intervention maybe you can convince your colleagues in Anakbayan and the NPA to return the children alive. It's not too late, I hope," he added.
Parlade added that the AFP and government will do everything it can to return these children safely to their loved ones and provide a better life even if they are already full-time communist rebels.
"They are just kids and they are simply victims of your exploitation. We will offer them safe-conduct passes if they reach out to the nearest parish, barangay official, school official or wherever they will feel safe," he said.
To accomplish this, he made the request that militant human rights group, Karapatan, keep its hands off government efforts to recover the missing minors.
"Our only request is for Karapatan not to intervene, again, like you always do when NPAs get in trouble. Instead, we urge (Karapatan secretary general Cristina) Palabay and Karapatan to look into the summary execution of three non-combatants in Kitaotao, Bukidnon by the NPAs. The three were abducted by the NPAs in 2017 and were recently exhumed, he said.
He expressed disgust that Karapatan remains mum about the extra-judicial killing of retired policeman Joel Rey Miqu Galendez, Army Sgt. Reynante Havana Espana, and tribal leader Datu Dionisio Camarullo Havana.
He also lambasted members of the Makabayan bloc for not condemning these extra-judicial killings but have the temerity to complain of being "red-tagged" by the government during the budget hearings in Congress.
It's your act or inaction that gives away your affiliation with the Reds. It's not us who red-tagged you, he said.
He added that no one believes the fake advocates of human rights and defenders of justice.
That is why they target our gullible children aged 13, 14 and 15. How inhumane can you be, Ms. (Sarah) Elago (Kabataan party-list representative) and Mr. (Carlos) Zarate? (Bayan Muna Party-list representative)," he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Source: Philippines News Agency