Trigger warning: Emotional abuse, physical abuse
By MARK LAVARRO
STA. CRUZ, Laguna – “I don’t feel safe here. I feel so trapped.”
This was the statement of 20-year-old Anakbayan member Alicia Lucena as she left her home again – for the seventh time – citing physical and emotional abuses she was subjected to while staying at her parents’ house.
Lucena repeatedly became the subject of news reports as early as 2019, when her mother filed kidnapping charges and attempted to avail of habeas corpus and amparo pleas against Lucena’s colleagues. Most of these charges have already been dismissed due to lack of probable cause.
In April, Lucena was one of the two youth activists who were invited for a random swab testing in Manila but later learned that they were being brought to the village hall to meet their parents, who were accompanied by police officers. She had, since then, been staying with her family but had been locked up in the fourth floor of their house in Pasay City.
Read: ‘Randomized swab testing’ used to arrest 2 activists, youth group says
She described her stay as solitary confinement that triggered her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Every day, she added, was a struggle to stay alive.
“The walls were white and my bed was on the floor. The place was messy and dirty. The gate was padlocked, even my windows had grills. It was as if I was in prison. They did not let me talk to my sister at least. I would urinate in the cat’s litter box,” she said.
Back in April, Lucena recalled that her phone was confiscated and was denied the opportunity to contact a paralegal or a lawyer. Her parents later arrived at the village hall and forcibly brought her back to their house.
“What did I do wrong? Is there something wrong if I want to escape the hands of an abuser?” she said.
The youth activist also expressed fears that even her psychiatrist is affiliated with the government’s counterinsurgency arm. Instead of counseling, she said her sessions involved interrogation, where she was being shown pictures of alleged members of underground organizations.
This, she said, was also done to her when she was in military custody in 2019.
“I feel so violated and scared. It felt as if they were ganging up on me,” she said.
Youth group Anakbayan said Alicia’s escape from her family was both necessary and legitimate due to the abuses she said she experienced in her detention.
Read: What it’s like to have an activist child
Meanwhile, Alicia’s mother Relissa, who is also a member of the “Hands Off Our Children” and “League of Parents of the Philippines” denied Alicia’s statement, saying she was only protecting her daughter.
Lucena, for her part, called on her fellow youth activists not to lose hope. “We can rise above this.” (JJE, RVO)