“The soldiers forcibly grabbed MJ who was crying and resisting all the while. His foster parents were held at gunpoint while they were wrestling with the soldiers to get the child back. The soldiers forced the boy into the SUV, and the foster parents were almost run over by the SUV as it sped away with the boy.”
By LILY DELA CRUZ
MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) demands the return of MJ, a four-year-old child of a political prisoner who was forcibly taken from his guardian last May 12 at sitio Ambuyan, barangay Pitogo, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro.
In a statement, Coni Ledesma, head of NDFP’s Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC), said it was around 7:00 p.m. when 10 soldiers from the 203rd Infantry Brigade and 41st Infantry Battalion under the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) arrived at the residence of MJ’s guardian. The family was having supper at the time.
“The soldiers forcibly grabbed MJ who was crying and resisting all the while. His foster parents were held at gunpoint while they were wrestling with the soldiers to get the child back. The soldiers forced the boy into the SUV, and the foster parents were almost run over by the SUV as it sped away with the boy,” Ledesma said in a statement.
She added, “It is believed that MJ was kidnapped to put pressure on his mother to cooperate with the military, and to pressure his father to surrender.”
MJ’s mother, Emilia Marquez, was arrested in 2017 while tending MJ who was critically-ill at the time. MJ was two-months old and was confined in a hospital in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
According to Tanggol Bayi-Philippines, that was the second time Marquez was arrested.
In February 2010, she was arrested together with 43 other health workers, collectively known as Morong 43 as they were arrested in Morong, Rizal.
Ledesma said this is not the first time that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) abducted children of members of the revolutionary movement to pressure them to surrender. She cited the case of New People’s Army leader Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal’s daughter, Andrea, who was abducted to pressure him to surrender.
“The Special Office for the Protection of Children demands the immediate return of MJ to his guardians. The Armed Forces of the Philippines should not make children further victims of their dirty war of terror,” Ledesma said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines also condemned the abduction of MJ.
“We condemn in the strongest terms Gen. Antonio Parlade and his criminal gang in the SOLCOM. They must be punished for their crimes and abuses against children’s rights,” said CPP Chief Information Marco Valbuena.
“This crime is part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) war of suppression against dissenters and progressives,” Valbuena added.
The SOPC was established by the NDFP in 2012 “to strengthen its mechanisms on monitoring and defending the rights of Filipino children.