Children of War
June 24, 2016
QUEZON CITY – They
are children of war, victims of a war their innocent minds cannot
comprehend. But they know injustice has been to done their parents who
did nothing wrong by helping the farmers, the workers, the poor.
Even adults cannot
comprehend why launching a fight against the causes of poverty and
unrest is a crime. And why one should be jailed for one's political
Angel Lorenzo, 8 years old,
studies at the Children of God Learning Academy; a child seemingly
forsaken by man's folly.
She remembers when the bad
guys came along, took her mother and left her with her one year old
sister and their “yaya” to complete strangers. How she cried and cried
together with her sister. Their “yaya”, terrified and confused, would
not know how to console them. They cried and cried until their
grandmother arrived to take them.
That day, July 20, 2015,
Joyce Latayan, 39, Angel's mother, has just arrived home after picking
her up from school. She noticed two men in civilian clothes inside
their compound. Then she saw other plain- clothes men went up the
second floor of their house. They later came down with bags and a box
of weapons, items which do not belong to Angel's family. They
identified themselves as members of the Criminal and Investigation
Detection Group (CIDG).
The men whisked Joyce away
on the basis of a highly questionable and faulty search warrant issued
from the Cabanatuan City Regional Trial Court and the box of weapons
they were carrying. She was charged with trumped up cases of illegal
possession of firearms and explosives, which were later dismissed by
the Prosecutor's Office in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan where they
At about the same time,
Angelika's father, Ernesto Lorenzo, 59, was nabbed at the IT Center in
Gilmore, Quezon City, by joint elements of the CIDG and members of the
military intelligence group.
Lorenzo is a peace
consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines with
JASIG ID No. ND978229 under the assumed name of "Lean Martinez".
Lorenzo's arrest was based on a warrant for destructive arson filed in
2010 in Lucena City. He was among the activists and leaders of
people's organizations in Southern Tagalog falsely charged with
criminal offenses by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Inter-Agency
Legal Action Group (IALAG). In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial killings Prof. Philip Alston had strongly recommended
abolition of the IALAG and a stop to the practice of filing fabricated
charges against activists.
Lorenzo was a youth leader
of the Methodist Youth Fellowship and had been a long time pastor of
the United Methodist Church after his studies. Later he engaged in
organizing work in the peasant communities and in socio-economic and
development work among urban poor and workers. He is currently
detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s Special
Intensive Care Area (BJMP-SICA) at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
mabuti. (Be good, study well)." This is Kennedy Bangibang's perennial
advice to his only son, Diwin Jude Kenn Monte Bangibang, 8 years old,
whenever he visits him in the confines of the Bureau of Jail
Management and Penology in Tabuk, Kalinga, Cordillera.
A full-blooded Igorot who
hails from a remote village in Cordillera, Kennedy was witness to the
plunder of foreign corporations on their ancestral land and natural
As a student activist in
1987, he had immersed with the peasant masses. He later became a
full-time activist and revolutionary leader. He was illegally arrested
on February 23, 1913 [sic] by elements of the RIU-14 of the Philippine
National Police-Intelligence Group while on board a bus at a PNP
checkpoint in Bangao Proper, Buguias, Benguet. Kennedy is a consultant
of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on Cordillera
Affairs. His arrest is a blow to the national minorities as their
concern is among the issues to be tackled in the next agenda of the
peace talks – the drafting of a Comprehensive Agreement on
Socio-Economic Reform (CASER).
Victim of a justice system
that grinds exceedingly slow, Kennedy has been languishing in jail for
the past three years and his case being transferred from one court to
another, from Kalinga to Baguio.
While Angel would bubbly
narrate the happy moments with his father as they frolic on the beach
of Pangasinan, where he used to work, Diwin would just matter-of-fact
share memories of his Papa and Mama – the walks in the parks, the
visits to the malls and the one time they went swimming in the
underground river of Palawan.
Diwin's Mama, Recca Noelle Monte, was a New People's Army (NPA)
fighter, who was killed during a military operation of the 41st
Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army on
September 4 and 5, 2014 at Guinginabang, Lacub, Abra. She was unarmed
and bore no gunshot wound indicating from the looks of her remains
that she was tortured while held captive, a clear violation of the
International Humanitarian Law.
Diwin could tell the state of his Mama's remains without batting an
eyelid – the traumatic injuries, crushed skull, unidentifiable face,
broken leg bones. Asked if he actually saw this, he said only from the
picture. The handsome, smooth pinkish face of the boy showed no
emotion, but admitted he is sad and lonely.
Angel was loquacious and confident as she told her stories. Her mother
said she regained her composure with the psycho-social counselling she
underwent after the trauma from her experience.
Asked about her father's work, Angel quipped, "Natulong sa farmers at
workers (helps farmers and workers)". Diwin has a similar impression
of his parents work, "they were helping the farmers and the poor."
What do the children of war aspire to be when they grow up? Angel said
she will be a heart surgeon to help the sick. Meanwhile, Diwin wants
to be a lawyer, "so I could defend Papa and Mama. I could free Papa
and give them justice."