MANILA – Gabriela Women's Party, a party-list organization claiming to be an advocate of women's rights, is a recruiter for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), three women former NPA rebels said.
During a special press briefing of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) held on Tuesday in observance of International Women's Month, Arian Jane Ramos alias Ka Marikit said she was recruited by Gabriela to join the communist movement when she was still a young student.
Ramos was the former secretary of the NPA Guerrilla Front (GF) 55, Sub-Regional Committee 5 (SRC)-Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC), and former chairperson of Gabriela Youth - University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao.
“I was recruited in 2012 in UP Mindanao because of the many relevant political and social issues they infused in their propaganda to students like us. I joined the Gabriela Youth and soon after became its chairperson. Then I was indoctrinated as a CPP-NPA-NDF party member tasked to expose issues about women in communities. On May 11, 2014, I was in Talaingod teaching the IPs (Indigenous People),” Ramos said.
It was during her stint in Talaingod that Ramos became aware of the leadership of Gabriela as a member of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“I should know. I used to attend Gabriela’s general assembly. And I know that those women at the legal fronts have better lives than us, the women in the mountains. Gabriela only uses women to gather funds through solicitations from organizations abroad,” she said.
Ramos said it was also in that same period that she got pregnant by a comrade and now has a child.
“Once you have given birth, you are given one month to recuperate then go back to your unit in the mountains. Yun ang mahirap dahil kahit babae ka, ini-expect na kaya mong gawin lahat (It’s difficult because even if you’re a woman, you’re expected to be able to do everything),” Ramos added.
She said there are many untold stories of suffering by women cadres who were sexually abused and raped by their commanders.
Ka Ruffa Correa, another former rebel, said her family was duped into joining the NPA.
She, too, talked about the sufferings she endured as a member of the NPA and related how the communist terrorist group (CTG) destroyed her family.
For wanting to have a good education, Correa said she followed her father’s advice to join the CTG, through Anakbayan, and got pregnant by her live-in partner.
Correa said she gave birth in a near-death situation as she and her younger sister “Shane” were left to fend for themselves while going down the mountains to reach the hospital.
She added that she was forced to leave her baby to people whom she hardly knew when she was ordered by her commanders to get back to the mountains.
When she got backed, she was shattered after finding out that her sister Shane at the young age of 15 was raped twice by her commander and their platoon leader, prompting them to file charges before the movement’s own tribunal, but to no avail.
It was then that they decided to escape the CTGs by turning themselves into the hands of government forces. Their mother, Pacita Correa, who has a cataract, also turned herself in.
Pacita said she only found out about the tragic ordeal of her daughters with the CTGs when she saw them again under government troops' protection.
During the press briefing, she pleaded to her husband and her two sons to surrender as well.
Shane is now in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) while rape charges were already filed by the Department of Justice against her commander, identified as Paterno Opo alias Dodong and Rey Dela Peña.
Hands Off Our Children Movement member Mary Frances Meriveles, also a mother, still could not accept that her son, Francis Ern Meriveles never went home after becoming an NPA when he was still a 16-year-old student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
“Francis turned 23 last March 13. Wala pa rin siya. Ang hirap. Ako ay may takot na kung ibabalik siya sa amin… ay patay na siya. Ito ay di gawa-gawang kwento. Sana mamulat na tayo sa katotohanan (He is still gone. It’s difficult. I am afraid that if he will be brought to us, he would be dead. It is not a factional story. Hopefully, we will become aware of the truth),” Meriveles said, referring to parents and children who are being fooled to join the CPP-NPA-NDF through fronts like Gabriela and Anakbayan.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PR)