Why is CHR silent on Terrorist NPA Attacks, recruitment of minors?

Why is CHR silent on Terrorist NPA Attacks, recruitment of minors
Leaders of anti-communist groups and mothers of children allegedly recruited by militant organizations meet with CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann De Guia inside the CHR Building on Thursday (Feb. 27, 2020). (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

Why is CHR silent on NPA attacks, recruitment of minors?

MANILA – Anti-communist groups on Thursday slammed the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for allegedly snubbing the longstanding violence and atrocities committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and its front organizations.

In a protest rally staged in front of the CHR office in Quezon City, the League of Parents in the Philippines (LPP), Liga Independencia Filipinas(LIF), League of Youth for Peace Advancement (LYPAD), Coalition for Peace (COPA) and Hands Off Our Children, alongside mothers of students who were reportedly recruited by various militant groups, expressed their dismay on the silence of the CHR over the terrorist activities of the NPA and cases of missing minors who were reportedly recruited by various militant organizations.

LPP chairperson Remy Rosadio criticized CHR Chairman Chito Gascon for not speaking up against militant groups’ recruitment of minors.

"We have been doing the same protest over and over against the CPP-NPA-NDF and its allied organizations because we are longing for our children. But you seem to remain blinded and deaf with our calls,” she said.

Rosadio added that the commission is not providing competent action against the terroristic acts of the rebel groups.

“We’ve shared so many pains, but why are they still playing blind and deaf on our calls? We, the parents of these recruited children, are hurt and are always asking—when are we going to sleep well Mr. Gascon? When are we going to feel safe for our family, when will you listen to our pleas and help us stop the recruitment of the communist’s legal fronts?,” Rosadio said.

She said the rallyists and the parents of recruited minors are expecting Gascon to fairly respond to their calls and "talk to us so that we will know your side on our sentiments. We also want to know your stand on how are you going to help us.”

Recruitment schemes

Meanwhile, Hands Off Our Children and LPP spokesperson Arlene Escalante added that the CHR needs to know why the parents' group is dismayed on how some activist organizations led their children to join the communist armed rebellion.

“What we expect CHR to do is to actually listen and open their eyes to what is happening. The CPP-NPA-NDF is continuously recruiting and brainwashing children all over the Philippines, so hindi pa ba ito pagwasak sa rights ng mga kabataan? (is this not destroying children’s rights?)” she said.

She also urged Gascon to stop sending wrong reports regarding the alleged abuses to the United Nations, adding that the CPP-NPA-NDF and its allies have been indoctrinating children with wrong ideologies.

“The violence against innocent individuals is committed only by the CPP-NPA-NDF and not vice versa,” she said.

Probe issues raised

After the rally, CHR personnel held a dialogue with the anti-communist groups.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the commission’s mandate is to call out the wrongdoings of any organization or the government.

De Guia said the commission will investigate the issues presented by the groups.

"We are not still sure about the facts that they are alleging against these organizations, but we will see to it that it will be subject to investigation...I assure (that) the CHR will remain dedicated to the job and an independent investigation will be done regarding this matter. And the verdict on this case will only be based on the weight of the evidence," she said in an interview.

 De Guia said the CHR "has never been a supporter of the armed movement or the NPA," adding that the CHR is clear in its mandate to "support freedom and rights of expressing opinions based on the Constitution and not the armed conflict."

She said the commission has been releasing several statements condemning the atrocities and violence committed by rebel groups.

“On the other hand, we will not hesitate to call out when there is an abuse in the government, because we are dedicated to our mandate to do the right things based on the Constitution," she said.

De Guia assured the rallyists that the commission remains dedicated to upholding their mandate and that they are willing to accommodate the sentiments of the protesters, especially the grievances of the mothers whose children were allegedly recruited by militant organizations.

“We are going to listen to them and we will face them like any other persons who need our help,” she said.

The CPP-NPA, which was founded by exiled leader Jose Maria Sison, has been declared as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Philippine News Agency (PNA) 
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