Group says youth leaders nabbed upon swab testing; Parent denies abduction
Members of Anakbayan stage a protest in front of Petron Pedro Gil against the rice in oil prices on March 20, 2021.
Anakbayan Twitter page

Group says youth leaders nabbed upon swab testing; Parent denies abduction

(Philstar.com) - April 20, 2021 - 11:59am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated Apr. 21, 2021, 11:05 a.m.) — A progressive group alleged that two youth leaders were abducted by state forces on Monday afternoon after being called for swab testing by their barangay.

Anakbayan in a Facebook post claimed Alicia Lucena and Sofia Bangayan were set up for illegal capture by members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict who "lured [them] to the local barangay hall anticipating randomized swab testing." 

Bagayan was eventually returned to her home but Lucena was reported missing as of Anakbayan's post on Monday evening.  

"[Lucena] is the daughter of NTF-ELCAC agent and Hands Off Our Children frontman, Relissa Lucena. Anakbayan fears that she is once again being kept incommunicado and subjected to torturous psychological warfare by state forces," the group said. 

PCOO: Lucena is with her parents

Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Joel Egco, however, slammed the group's accusations. Reacting to a Philstar.com report citing Anakbayan that authorities abducted Lucena, Egco said she was fetched by her mother who suspected she had COVID-19 and wanted to get her swabbed.

Egco said that Relissa Lucena, mother of Alicia, called him last Tuesday and informed him that she fetched her daughter in Manila.

”Mrs. Lucena asked me if I can help them look for a swabbing facility that is not expensive," Egco said.

He added that while he is currently on self-quarantine in Nueva Ecija he "pulled some strings" for Lucena to be accommodated at a swabbing facility at Mall of Asia. Egco also said that his staff coordinated with PLt. Col. Jess Ostrea of the Philippine National Police Medical Reserve Force.

"It is unfair and immoral and grossly unethical for anybody, especially a respected news outfit, to publish such story that has put me and Col. Ostrea in a bad light," Egco said. "We just helped and responded to a request by a friend in need."

Lucena has accused her parents of detaining her twice as documented by an ABS-CBN report on the sworn statement she submitted to a Department of Justice panel of prosecutors in 2019.

Who kidnapped Alicia Lucena? 

The younger Lucena was the subject of a junked Writ of Amparo petition filed by her parents who accused Anakbayan of kidnapping their daughter. The writ is a protection extended by the highest court to petitioners whose life, liberty and security are threatened by state forces and private entities. 

However, the Supreme Court in September last year ruled that Lucena had not been missing, as her parents had claimed, and could make her own choices as an 18-year-old. 

Police similarly filed a complaint against activists, including Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list), accusing them of kidnapping Lucena and forcing her to join Anakbayan. It was junked by the Department of Justice in October 2020. 

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