ILOILO City – To prevent young people from being recruited by the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) has intensified campaign against such activity.
Included in its campaign is the conduct of peace symposiums and insurgency awareness in highs schools, and youth leadership trainings in municipalities.
“The rebels’ recruitment ruins the future of students who are the hope of their families and our country,” said Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander.
Since June, the 61IB has so far conducted peace symposiums and insurgency awareness campaign in 10 high schools in the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz.
Video clips tackling the consequences of joining the armed conflict and the strategies of the rebels in deceiving young minds were shown to students.
“We target junior and senior high school students, especially in upland schools because they are the most vulnerable to CPP-NPA recruitment,” said Batara.
The Army also conducts three-day youth leadership summits where camaraderie among participants are developed.
“They find new friends through the summits,” said Batara, adding that the summits also awaken the sense of volunteerism among the youth.
The Army conducts two youth leadership summits every quarter.
Batara said the rebels deceive the students through discussions of societal issues allegedly not addressed or even perpetrated by the government.
Students in the upland villages are most exposed to recruitment as they seldom witness the development in cities and provinces, said Batara.
“They (rebels) exploit the students first, and then encourage them to go in villages for immersion. Eventually, they will give the students firearms,” he said.
This recruitment strategy of the rebels endanger students, lamented Batara.
“Sometimes in encounters between soldiers and rebels we can see students,” he revealed.
Batara also pushed for the institutionalization of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He said this will develop nationalism and patriotism among the youth.
“It is time we make compulsory the ROTC to protect our youth and students,” he said.
The Army commander also advised parents to always check on their children.
“Ask them of their activities and monitor their schooling. We hear that some students change attitude, go into rallies, and eventually become the target of the NPA because they are potential members. Let us protect our children,” he said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)