ILOILO City – The Philippine Army warned students against joining the so-called “pambansang walkout” mass protest against tuition fee increases, human rights violations and other issues.
“This activity is being spearheaded by leftists. We are alarmed,” said Captain Eduardo Precioso, spokesperson of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division based in Jamindan, Capiz.
The New People’s Army (NPA) would be using the protest action to recruit new members, according to Precioso.
“Ito ang ginagawa ng mga terrorists sa mga students kasi madali ma-convince ang mga students,” he said.
He urged parents, teachers and school administrators to monitor their students’ movements.
“Baka iba ang mapasukan nila,” said Precioso.
But a Christian youth group rebuked the military for issuing the warning.
“The admonitions of the Philippine Army and the monitoring of activities of mass-oriented student organizations is a sign of silencing voices of truth and attacking one of the most fundamental freedoms of society, freedom of expression,” the Student Christian Movement (SCM) – West Visayas State University Chapter said in a statement.
“Through the laws of (the) Duterte (regime) and his administration of puppets, the consciences of the masses and the voices of truth and justice are continually vexed, flayed, and obscured,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, SCM Philippines spokesperson Kenji Muramatsu asked: “What is wrong with helping victims of human rights abuses call for justice for their slain loved ones? After the bloody massacre in Sagay City (Negros Occidental) and the non-stop surveillance and harassment on human rights defenders, now the military wants the people to shut up amid widespread human rights violations committed towards God’s people.”
The spokesperson also referred to this act as “un-Christ-like”.
“The Bible and our churches have taught us to pursue justice and let it flow like a stream. For the military to vilify the people’s pilgrimage towards this mission explicitly goes against the teachings of Christ,” Muramatsu said.
To stop NPA infiltration in schools, proactive collaboration is needed among various government organizations, parents and learning institutions, Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Public Affairs Office chief Colonel Noel Detoyato said in Metro Manila.
“We need to keep educating them about the deceitful tactics of these communist terrorists and warn parents and universities. Students themselves must be discerning about the people approaching them and the organizations they are joining,” stressed Detoyato.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
Detoyato dissuaded students from joining the ranks of communist rebels as they will only be used to further grow the terror organization.
“Students who join them are being agitated and the rebels use these students’ idealism to fight, not knowing that eventually, they will be required to undergo ‘immersion’ in the armed group and have no other choice but to integrate in the NPA as fighters,” he added. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)