MANILA - The kidnapping and human trafficking charges against youth groups Anakbayan and Kabataan Party-list over the alleged abduction of a teen activist are "weak" and "absurd," a former opposition lawmaker said Thursday.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who was tagged in the complaint, said the Philippine National Police "made a whole lot of crimes" in their complaint.
"It was not only weak but also absurd. If you look at the complaint of the mother, there was no allegation of the elements of the crime. She was just saying she was recruited and I want her back," he told ANC's Early Edition.
Colmenares was referring to complainant Relissa Lucena, who recently testified before a Senate hearing that her daughter, 18-year-old Alicia, was recruited by Anakbayan.
In the complaint, Lucena said her daughter left their house in March and left a letter containing “strong messages against her mother and her policy at home.” She said she tried to convince her to go home during a meeting a few days later but Alicia refused.
Alicia surfaced at a press briefing at the House of Representatives on Aug. 14, accusing the military and the police of using her family’s problem in advancing their agenda. In a Facebook post, she denied being coerced and said she joined Anakbayan voluntarily.
Anakbayan spokeswoman Alex Danday echoed Alicia and said the group encourages their members to keep in touch with their parents.
"We encourage them to talk to their parents and explain why they joined the organization at bakit nandun pa rin sila sa (why they remain at the) organization," she said.
Danday denied that their group recruits youth members to join the New People's Army (NPA), an allegation that the military and police have repeatedly hurled against leftist groups.
"Sariling desisyon siya nung indibidwal at hindi kailan man ipinilit o pinasok sa isipan ng mga kabataan yun," she said.
(It's the individual's own decision and our group never forced or introduced the idea to the youth.)
Colmenares said opposition groups supporting the same advocacies as communist rebels do not make civilians members of the armed struggle.
"There’s no monopoly of nationalism. If the NPA believes there should be land for the landless, it doesn’t preclude other groups from also espousing the same principle," he said.
"You don’t lump the opposition with armed combatants just because they espouse similar issues."
He added that the proposed revival of the anti-subversion law was intended for the opposition.
"This is one country na na-notice ko na ang activism is evil, sufficient na ikulong o patayin yan."
"I've always mentioned this, President (Rodrigo) Duterte when you criticize people, you lambast people as if they’re animals, why don’t you allow somebody else to criticize you? If you can dish it, you can take it."
Colmenares said in order for government to resolve activism and insurgency, it must solve the root of their problems first--poverty and injustice.