Defense chief: Satur Ocampo, Rep. Castro wanted to use 'kidnapped' children for propaganda

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 4) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday he believes that former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro would use the children they allegedly kidnapped for propaganda.

"I can only surmise that these kids would be used again for propaganda purposes," Lorenzana told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Last Thursday, Ocampo and Castro along with 17 others were charged for illegally holding minors and transporting 14 children from Talaingod, Davao del Norte to a unknown location..

The 18 accused posted bail on Saturday totalling to ₱1.44 million. They deny the charges, saying they were on a humanitarian mission and decried the charges as "political persecution."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddyboy Locsin, who was Ocampo's colleague in Congress, also scoffed at the charges, calling them "bullsh*t."

But Lorenzana belied their allegations of abuse, insisting that the kids "were forcibly taken from their communities."

"What abuse are you talking about? Just because they were caught transporting minors illegally? That's not abuse. We're just trying to perform our mandate, the police's mandate to protect our people," he said.

"If they say it's trumped-up, then the Court will find out if it's really a trumped-up charge," he added.

 

In a chance interview with CNN Philippines, Lorenzana also said the group, dubbed as Talaingod 18, might have wanted to transport the children in time for the 50th anniversary of the communist New People's Army on December 29.

"They want to make it bongga ba. Madaming batang sumusuporta. [fabulous. Many kids would be supporting.] They will invite international media," Lorenzana said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez outrightly tagged Ocampo and Castro as "active members" of the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

"Hindi 'yan trumped-up charges, these are true ano, true realities...Dapat...we have to look for the truth, ito 'yung truth talaga ngayon na nakita natin," Galvez told reporters Monday.

[Translation:Those are not trumped -up charges, these are true, true realities...We have to look for the truth, this is the truth that we are seeing now.]

But Lorenzana said Castro and Ocampo are not active members of the communist rebellion, but are supporting activities of the CPP-NPA in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Castro condemned Galvez' allegation, saying she would hold Galvez accountable if something happens to her.

The leftist Makabayan bloc, of which Castro's ACT Teachers party-list is part, is eyeing charges against the AFP before the Office of the Ombudsman for "red tagging" Ocampo and Castro.

CNN Philippines' David Santos and Xianne Arcangel contributed to this story.