MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday slammed former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, saying the latter was guilty of kidnapping and endangering the lives of Lumad children.
Ocampo, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro and others in their group were arrested last week for allegedly bringing minors out of Talaingod, Davao del Norte. They have since posted bail.
“You know an ordinary person — lalo na kung senador ka — you must be aware that you cannot remove children from one community to another without the consent of the parents,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview.
“That is actually kidnapping. Eh nagreklamo ‘yung mga victims. You heard they were lectured upon by the Lumads. And it’s like controlling the lives of the natives. Iyan ang mahirap sa komunista, ginagamit nila ang Lumad. Kaya ang karamihan ngayon ang namamatay Lumad.”
The President added that Ocampo and his group could have placed the “children into a territory baka magkaupakan pa, magkabarilan, eh you put in danger everybody.”
Ocampo, however, rejected allegations that communist rebels are recruiting minors in Lumad areas.
He said the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People's Army (CPP-NPA) has a "rule against recruiting minors."
"Definitely, that could not be a part of the program of the NPA," he told ANC's Headstart.
However, this is not to deny that the armed wing of the communist movement is not present in the area, said Ocampo.
"The NPA operates in the hinterlands. It so happens that most if not all of the communities of the Lumads are in the hinterlands, so they become battleground areas. It is not surprising that the NPA has its main objective of organizing the people in the struggle for their own welfare,” he said.
“It doesn’t deny that there are Lumads who joined the NPA but they are not minors,” he added.