Free recruited minors, Año tells Reds

INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año has urged the youth to stay away from the “virus of communist terrorism,” as he called the leftist group to free Alice Jasper (AJ) Lucena, and other recruited minors and give them back to their grieving parents.

As the country eases to a new normal against the deadly corona virus, Año urged the youth to maintain distancing, physically or online and sanitize themselves of the polluted beliefs pushed by these communist terror groups (CTGs) which he described as worse than the COVID-19 pandemic.

The renewed call against CTGs came after the Supreme Court En Banc directed leftist leaders to respond to the show cause order issued on May 19 against 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.

On May 8, AJ’s parents Francis and Relissa Lucena filed a petition for the issuance of the writ of Habeas Corpus and Amparo 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.

“Kayong mga CTGs ang limang dekada nang peste sa lipunan.Mas matindi pa kayo sa COVID-19. Pinapatay nyo ang kinabukasanng kabataan at dinudurog ninyo ang pusong mga magulang nanawawalan ng mga anak,” an irked DILG chief said.  

He added that these CTGs cannot even justify their recruitment of minors and child warriors which is a clear violation of international law saying they cannot wash their hands of the brainwashing activities they do to mislead the youth towards communist terrorism.

“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. Stop spreading the virus of communist terrorism,” Añoadded.

He said that the DILG, a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), lauded 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 which 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 said 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.

Furthermore, 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.

The Lucena couple was also assured the DILG will help them in getting AJ back in compliance with the law and Constitution.