By Francis Wakefield
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said that AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez, Jr. stands by his statement questioning the motives of former Bayan Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Partylist Rep. Francene Castro in recruiting children to the communist movement.
Arevalo said Ocampo and Castro went to Talaingod, Davao del Norte at the dead of the night and spirited away 14 minors from Salugpungan Learning Center to unknown destinations without appropriate courtesies to local government executives and devoid of any parental authority or permission.
In a statement, Arevalo said that what the two did has all the trappings of kidnapping.
“If there is anything they must be afraid of, it is not their so-called ‘red tagging’ by the AFP. It is the cases legally and validly filed against them and the mounting evidence against their infamous version of ‘rescue’,” Arevalo said.
“Gen. Galvez cannot be cowed by a case that party list congressmen are filing against him,” he added.
Arevalo said Galvez has, in nearly four decades, been putting his life and that of his men in the name of protecting the people and securing the state. “What else can be more patriotic than that as against enemies of peace and development?,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo, at the same time, chided those who criticize the military establishment.
“What do we call those who support, adhere, and protect the operation of schools like Salugpungan and Alcadev? Schools that demonize government using a revised alphabet and primary school songs with altered lyrics; that teach students to despise the nation by asking them to memorize and sing a version of Lupang Hinirang, inciting violence and communism; teaching the minors to wield and use firearms; schools that had been discredited and padlocked by the lumads themselves who deem the schools as being used as NPA propaganda,” Arevalo said.
“What do we call those who support an administration that insists on running the schools where the lumad children are exploited and manipulated to be hardcore NPAs to refill the dwindling number of cadres in the field?,” he added.
Arevalo said Ocampo was lying when he said “the NPA is not recruiting minors” because of the testimonies refuting that claim.
“If one walks like a duck, acts like a duck, quacks like a duck, has the mindset and inclination of a duck, tell us what else could it but a duck?,” Arevalo said.
“The CSAFP will not succumb to propaganda and lies of the enemies of the state who belong to front organizations of the CPP; he will not cower in fear for this terrorist organization that has exploited and killed lumads and their leaders and even fellow NPAs on mere suspicion of being government assets; who murder their own people who leave their inutile struggle and return to the folds of the law and their families,” he said.