Senate panel seeks probe of solon, 7 others over recruitment of minors
Updated @ 10:13 p.m., Oct. 2,2019
MANILA, Philippines — A joint panel of the Senate has recommended further investigation and possible filing of charges, if warranted, against eight people, including Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, in connection with the alleged recruitment of minor students by leftist groups.
The joint panel is composed of the Senate committees on public order, headed by Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and national defense chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson. The two previously headed the Philippine National Police.
Aside from Elago, the seven others ordered investigated by the two panels were Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, Veneer Crisostomo, Einsten Recedes, Alex Danday, and Erika Cruz.
And “when there is sufficient evidence,” they should be charged for violating several laws, the two panels said in Committee Report No. 10 signed by 17 senators.
“One of the allegations established during the Committee hearings was the connection between the student activists and the Kabataan Partylist,” the report said.
While recognizing the role of the party-list system as a vehicle to voice sentiments, opinions and beliefs in the mainstream of policy-making, the joint panel also pointed the many criticisms against it.
One of which, the report said, is the allegation that some party-list organizations are communist fronts.
“Is this mere coincidence that the complaints of the mothers of the missing minors presented in this Report involve some party-list groups that were mentioned in the news as linked with the CPP-NPA?” the joint panel asked.
CPP-NPA stands for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
“Given this glaring reality, how do we secure the young people from their affiliations with these left-leaning party-list organizations and their revolutionary influences?”
In the committee report, the joint panel urged the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to look into the possible liabilities of school administrators and teachers where recruited minors are enrolled.
The panels also urged the two agencies to initiate thorough administrative investigations on teachers allegedly instigating their students to join rallies and street demonstrations that advocate radical and subversive ideologies.
They also found “justified need” to “occasionally” allow the presence of a reasonable number of police forces in school premises.
“Amidst threats of terrorism, prevalence of recruitment of students as armed combatants, increased criminality rates, reported incidence of drug-related problems within the campus, there is a justified need for the school authorities to occasionally allow the presence of a reasonable number of police forces in the school premises at an acceptable designated time,” the report said.
“In relation with the issue of recruitment of students by insurgents, it is noteworthy to state that what is being monitored is not the expression of ideologies in whatever form (rallies, demonstrations, and other related activities), but the possibility and imminent danger on the part of the students to actually join the insurgency and take arms against the duly constituted authorities in the Government,” it added.
While recognizing the right of expression and academic freedom, the three committees said, “the exercise of these rights should observe lawful limitations, and should not, at any time, sacrifice the rights and interests of the youth who may end up as armed combatants for the communist groups,” it further said.
The committee report has yet to be presented on the floor for deliberations. /je /atm
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