‘Missing’ students deny being kidnapped by leftist groups. So what really went on?

August 16, 2019 - 2:29 PM
Rallying with flags of the militant groups (The STAR/KJ Rosales)

Alicia Lucena and Lory Caalaman, two of the missing students, appealed to their parents and the senators to cease the probe on alleged disappearances due to the threats they’ve received since they surfaced to the media.

Their mothers were among those who testified before the Senate hearing on their cases led by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, also the former Philippine National Police who oversaw the administration’s bloody drug war.

Left-leaning groups such as Anakbayan and Kabataan were accused of kidnapping and force recruitment of the students.

Lucena and Caalaman, neither of whom are minors, later clarified in press conferences that they were not kidnapped and rather volunteered to be part of Anakbayan and Kabataan.

They also sent messages to their parents through a video clip on Facebook to stop being involved with the senators’ inquiries.

The eight-minute video was posted by Film Weekly, an audio visual group for documentaries and other progressive multimedia, on August 14.

Totoo bang Kinidnap at Brinainwash?

Kinidnap? Brinainwash? Totoo nga ba ang paratang sa Anakbayan at Kabataan Partylist?Lumantad ang sinasabing nawawalang kabataan na si Alicia Lucena at Lory Caalaman, parehong miyembro ng progresibong organisasyong pangkabataan.Panoorin at pakinggan ang kanilang panig.

Posted by Film Weekly on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Lucena revealed that she had been receiving threats on a daily basis since her mother, who was identified as Relissa during the hearing, posted about her supposed disappearance online.

“Di niyo alam na araw-araw nakaka-receive ako ng death threats sa Facebook,” she said.

She also recalled that her parents also made her visit the military at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last May and June to talk to surrenderees from the New People’s Army.

Caalaman, meanwhile, let her parents know that she loves them and that she’s going to be fine.

“Di po ako nagagalit sa magulang ko kundi mismo sa militar na kumakausap po sakanya, na nagpepressure po sakanya na gawin ito,” she said.

Caalaman also assured her parents: “Alam ko po na itong ginagawa ko kayo rin inspirasyon ko syempre. Alam ko po yung mga hirap na dinadanas niyo bilang manggagawa si papa, ikaw rin ma na barangay health worker sa komunidad natin. Wag po kayong mag alala. Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.”

Supporters of the student activists, meanwhile, mocked Dela Rosa’s perception that Lucena, Caalaman and other missing students are involved with communist rebels.

The hashtag #NPANightShift became one of the trending topics on Twitter Philippines.

Disproving allegations

The two disproved each claim on members of progressive youth groups being talked about on social media.

Lucena also previously shared an open letter on her Facebook, which had since set to private, to clear up the rumors about her.

ISANG BUKAS NA LIHAMDahil sa mga lumilitaw at kumakalat na mga post at balita ngayon sa facebook at sa internet,…

Posted by Alicia Lucena on Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Personal decision

Lucena, an Anakbayan member, emphasized that it was her personal decision to leave home due to certain family issues, which she claimed had since been publicized by her mother.

“Hindi po ako kinidnap. Boluntaryo po akong sumali sa Anakbayan at lumayas dahil sa mga  isyu po sa bahay na personal,” she said.

Meanwhile, Caalaman, a Kabataan member, said that she was not missing in the first place because she regularly goes home prior to the Senate probe.

“Nagulat nalang ako na nagpost si mama about sa missing daw po ako nung July 15. Syempre, kinontact ko siya noon na di naman ako nawawala kasi kakatapos lang nun yung birthday ko na July 2, edi kakauwi ko lang sa bahay nun. Palagian din akong umuuwi,” Caalaman said.

“So di po ako missing kasi umuuwi naman po ako nun,” she added.

Did not stray away

Since she was younger, Lucena narrated that she had been aware of the country’s societal problems.

“Naghanap po ako ng paraan para pag-aralan yung nangyayari sa lipunan. Yun po yung na-diskubre ko po yung Anakbayan,” she said.

Anakbayan members are mostly studying, Lucena clarified, contrary to the popular belief that they only exist to rally.

“Inaaral po namin kung ano ang kalagayan nila, kung kamusta sila, kung anong nararamdaman nila sa nangyayari ngayon,” she said.

Caalaman, for her part, expressed that her aspiration to empower the youth encouraged her to join Kabataan.

“Hindi po totoo yung force recruitment,” she said.

Similarly, members educate themselves about state affairs and the common people involved through school forums and cultural programs.

“Pag nalalaman namin yung nangyayari, hindi totoo na nag iiba kami ng way kasi nagiging critical yung mga utak ng mga kabataan na ito yung nangyayari,” she said.