MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have kidnapped children is baseless, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the CPP described Duterte’s pronouncement as “a big lie.”
“Duterte's rant is a desperate attempt to deflect charges of children's rights abuses against police [officers] who raided the Bakwit school University of San Carlos in Cebu City more than a week ago… There is no truth to police and military claims that the Bakwit School is an NPA school,” the statement read.
The CPP’s response came a day after Duterte accused the rebels of taking children away from their families and bringing them elsewhere, and even floated the idea that there should be no need for a search or arrest warrant during operations as long as there are children that need to be rescued.
The CPP said Duterte’s statements emphasize the “relentless” red-tagging campaign of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“It is the gross abuses committed by the military in their communities that forced the children to leave their homes and seek safety… Duterte's baseless charges and falsehoods is indicative of the relentless campaign of red-tagging by the NTF-ELCAC against [his] critics.”
Police earlier this month took into custody 19 minors from an indigenous people’s group based in Davao del Norte and arrested 7 people, including a teacher, inside the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus in Cebu City.
They alleged that the children were being recruited as "future armed combatants."
Police said there was no irregularity in the operation as 6 parents sought their help after their children have not returned home for 2 years.
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Lawmakers called for the Lumads' release, with a deputy speaker even putting up a P500,000 legal defense fund.