By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has backed the arrest and prosecution of the communist-linked group led by former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo for kidnapping several minors in Davao del Norte last week.
“I think the police did the right thing irrespective of the intention,” the President said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.
“I support the police and military. You know an ordinary person — lalo na kung senador ka — you must be aware that you cannot remove children from one community to another without the consent of the parents. That is actually kidnapping,” he added.
Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and 16 others recently posted bail after being arrested last week at a police checkpoint in Davao del Norte for holding minors in their convoy. They have been charged with violations of the anti-child abuse law.
The group was reportedly on a humanitarian mission along with teachers from lumad schools. The police however claimed that the minors were transported without parental consent.
The President hit back at Ocampo and his group for endangering the lives of the children.
“You know that there is war going on. Eh kung magka-barilan ‘yan, you put in jeopardy…You bring in children into a territory baka magkaupakan pa, magkabarilan [there might be fighting, gun battle] you put in danger everybody,” he said.
He said they might have been motivated by “good intentions in the world” but there was “criminal” intent to transport the children without the consent of their parents and use them in their communist struggle.
“There is the intent which is criminal in bringing out and transferring children from one area to another especially using them — eventually using them in their struggle. ‘Yan lang man ang komunista. Bakit pa tayo magbobolahan? [That’s the communist way. Why should we fool ourselves?],” he said.
Duterte also accused Bayan Muna and other groups as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He said groups like Bayan and Gabriela were part of the communist conspiracy to bring down the government.
“Alam natin that KMU, ‘yan Gabriela, they’re all communist fronts or being used by the communists,” he said.
“They are all communists, Communist Party of the Philippines, it’s raging a war and eventually you can connect them with the conspiracy to topple down government. Iyon man talaga. Huwag na tayong magbolahan diyan sa drama-drama ninyo [That’s it really. Let’s not fool ourselves with your drama],” he said.
He also accused the leftist group of using the indigenous people to advance their agenda. He noted that 75 pent of the armed members of the New People’s Army were recited from the Lumad community.
“It’s like controlling the lives of the natives. Iyan ang mahirap sa komunista, ginagamit nila ang Lumad. Kaya ang karamihan ngayon ang namamatay Lumad [That’s the difficult thing with the communists. They are using the Lumads so most of those who die are Lumads],” he said.