By Daniel Llanto
FilAm Star Correspondent
On the premise that some 500 to 1,000 youths are recruited yearly by communists, Interior Sec. Eduardo Año is pushing for the restoration of the law making subversion a criminal offense and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) an illegal organization.
Año issued the statement amid concerns raised by parents about their children who have gone missing reportedly after being recruited by left-leaning organizations.
The DILG Chief said youth group Anakbayan is also reportedly recruiting students to join a rebellion against the government.
Año said Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act has not been used against terrorism because it punished even honest mistakes of law enforcers with stiff fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The anti-subversion law or RA 1700 was passed in June 1957 during the presidency of Carlos Garcia. This outlawed the Hukbalahap movement and the communist party for aiming to set up a totalitarian regime in the Philippines and placing the country under a foreign power.
During the martial law era, RA 1700 was expanded through Presidential Decree 885 in 1976 and PD 1835 in 1981. The decrees made it a subversive criminal act to be affiliated with a group, attend a meeting or take part in any activity meant to overthrow the government.
Such decrees Año wants to see back in effect, to strike down what former President Fidel Ramos repealed in 1992.
In September of that year, then President Ramos repealed the law that made subversion a criminal offense, except for sedition. In RA 7636, Ramos also legalized the CPP amid peace talks with the rebels.
Año, however, lamented that the CPP has only been fooling the government as its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) continues to wage a bloody rebellion.
Citing intelligence reports, Año said some 500 to 1,000 youths are being indoctrinated every year by the CPP-NPA to either become their fighters or serve as militant student leaders in their respective schools.
He said reviving the anti-subversion law would complement President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, which created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Año noted that the United States has not repealed its Communist Control Act of 1954. “That’s why it’s impossible for subversive organizations to thrive in the US,” he said.
As Año spoke to the press, the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) sought to discourage the youth from joining the Left by calling on them to honor their parents and strive to become future leaders and good citizens of the country.
“Honor your parents, be ambitious, be cautious and be the ambassadors of peace and development in your communities,” said EMC Chief Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. in the light of the Senate’s investigation on the missing students.
He issued the challenge during the closing program of Youth For Peace Movement’s Youth Leaders’ Summit-Eastern Mindanao, in Mt. Moriah Camp, Pagatpat, Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
Santos related his message to the concerns and stories of parents who appeared recently in the Senate seeking help for their children who disowned their families after they were recruited by some militant party-list groups.
Participants of the youth activity responded by handing over their proposed program of activities, an output of their workshop on how they will contribute to peace and development.
It covers four thematic programs: organizational development, community development, peace communication, and youth development. The EMC said the three-day youth activity – a gathering of 117 youth leaders from Regions 10, 11, 12 and 13 – includes a cultural night, lectures on local governance, government’s peace and development programs and a workshop. The closing activity was likewise graced by DILG Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Affairs Marjorie Jalosjos and Executive Director Julius Gutierrez of the National Youth Commission.