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SENATE HEARING

Mothers of missing students allegedly recruited by leftist group recount ordeal

By AMITA LEGASPI,GMA News

Mothers of the five missing students who were allegedly recruited by left-leaning groups testified before a Senate committee on Wednesday where they emotionally narrated  their ordeal.

Three of the missing were senior high school students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, while one was from the Far Eastern University and one from the University of the East Manila. All of them are allegedly recruited by Anakbayan.

Jovita Antoniano said her Grade 11 daughter was an obedient and happy child before she joined the group. She said it has been a year since she lost communication with her daughter.

"Isang taon na wala kaming communication. May 7 [2018] umuwi siya pero umalis din kinabukasan ng umaga, hanggang sa ngayon walang communiciation kahit chat or text. Wala akong idea kung saan ang anak ko, hindi ko alam kung saan kami lalapit," she told the Senate Committee on Dangerous Drugs.

She said their last chat was on August 5, 2018.

"Nagbase kami sa kanyang profile at post sa Facebook at Messenger. Nagsabi siya last time na desidido siya sa kanyang pinili," said Antoniano.

Relissa Lucena said she enrolled her daughter in FEU in Manila to keep her away from leftist groups. However, on the first week of school, her daugther told her that she attended a rally during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) with Anakbayan.

"Ang anak ko walang alam sa mundo, first time pa lang siyang lumayo sa bahay namin, hindi pa siya ganun ka exposed. Pero nung first semester nakita ko na ‘yung changes.  Matigas na siya. Nag-open siya sa akin, Anakbayan na daw siya at lider na siya,” she said.

"Sinasabihan ko siya na huwag ka diyan. Against ako sa ginagawa nila pero hindi naman sa pinaglalaban nila," she added.

She said when her daughter started getting home late or would not go home for days, she reported to school and police authorities and talked to her. Her daughter supposedly said she is already a "full-time" member of Anakbayan.

"Sabi niya full-time na siya sa Anakbayan. Nung nalaman niyang nagsumbong ako, sabi niya kalaban na daw ako, huwag ko na daw isipin na may anak siya at ayaw na niyang mag-aral,” Lucena said.

"Responsible po ang anak ko, hindi ko matanggap na ganyan ang gagawin niya," she said, crying.

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Lucena said her daughter already left their home and her efforts to get her back were unsuccessful. She said her daughter even called her an oppressor.

"Nakita ko siya may hawak na placard, ang dugyot niyang tignan, naka-tsinelas lang. Yung anak ko halos ayaw kong padapuan ng langaw tapos ganun ang gagawin nila," she said.

She added her daughter also became part of the group posting campaign materials for party-list and then-senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares during the May 2019 elections.

Luisa Espina said her 16-year-old daughter also started not going home during the second semester of 2017.

"Nung first semester maayos ang grade niya. Nung nagpaparamdam na sasali sa Anakbayan, sabi niya nagu-group study pero nawawala-wala na siya. Nitong mga March nawala na siya nang matagal, two weeks, may nakapagsabi sa akin na nasa Pandi, Bulacan. Hinanap ko siya sa lahat ng subdivision ng Kadamay," she said.

Espina said she later found out that her daughter was in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. “Napicture-an siya ang itim-itim niya, ang dumi-dumi,” she said.

She said she was able to get back her daughter, but her daughter went missing again during the SONA in 2018. She found her again staying at the Gabriela Silang Hall in PUP Manila but once again left their home December 2018.

PUP president Emmanuel de Guzman, meanwhile, apologized to the families of the missing senior high school students and expressed hope that such will not happen again.

"Ako po ay nag-a-apologize sa kanila dahil ‘yung mga anak nila na nasa PUP ay na-recruit kahit na ito ay labag sa aming kalooban. But we cannot commit na 100 percent na wala ng ganito. We are hoping this will not happen again," he said in the same hearing.

Two other mothers recounted their experience which is similar to the three. —KBK, GMA News