Senate probe on 'missing minors' not meant to harass activist groups — Dela Rosa

Senate probe on 'missing minors' not meant to harass activist groups � Dela Rosa
Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa during the Kapihan sa Senado forum, July 4, 2019.
The STAR / Mong Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines  — Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, disputed claims that the inquiry into allegedly missing minors is aimed to "harass" and "silence" progressive youth groups.

Dela Rosa's committee is currently conducting hearings on the supposed disappearance of minors after being recuitred by left-leaning groups.

In his opening statement Wednesday, the senator stressed that the probe was "about protecting the basic unit of our society."

"Their claim of harassment is not true as it runs contrary to the claims of the parents who are here voluntarily and have grown desperate because their pleas have not been heard by the youth organization," Dela Rosa said.

Anakbayan, the activist organization mentioned in last week's hearing, has said its members are free to join or leave as they please.

Two of the allegedly missing activists, neither of whom are minors, have also said at press conferences that they have not been kidnapped nor are they being held against their will.

'Not meant to supress student activism'

Dela Rosa also denied accusations that his committee's inquiry, which has delved into activist recruitment in schools like the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, is meant to suppress student activism.

The senator added that this claim was a "mockery to the parents who exposed themselves publicly."

"We are here voluntarily because their children are being coddled by these organizations and they have grown desperate because their pleas have not been heeded by the said groups," he said.

The former PNP chief also claimed that the Senate inquiry does not have anything to do with the activist groups being critics of the Duterte administration.

In connection to reports of parents raising concern about their children allegedly going missing after being recruited by leftist groups, Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año suggested restoring the anti-subversion law.

According to Año, this would complement President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order 70 that created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

The anti-subversion law, signed in June 1957, made membership in and support of the Communist Party of the Philippines a crime. This law was repealed in 1992 under the Ramos administration when peace talks with communist rebels started. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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