No more school in NPA recruitment tag but…

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade said schools in Panay Island are no longer recruitment centers of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Brigadier General Marion Sison, 301st IB commander, made the declaration following the conduct of the Panay Peace Summit 2022 at the Iloilo National High School campus in La Paz, Iloilo City on Saturday, December 3.

“Sa ngayon, wala kaming nakikita at namo-monitor,” he said.

Months ago, the 3rd Infantry Division also claimed that NPA recruitment is not deemed rampant in schools in Western Visayas.

Major General Benedict Arevalo, 3rd ID commander, said that they don’t consider NPA’s clout in schools as alarming.

Two years ago, former Ilonggo activist and now National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Jeffrey Celiz, or Ka Eric Almendras, tagged four schools in Iloilo as “hotbeds of NPA recruitment.”

Three universities are in Iloilo City and one is in Miagao, Iloilo.

But while there is no school considered as breeding ground of NPA recruitment, Sison said they are closely monitoring the situation of the West Visayas State University College of Agriculture and Forestry, which is located in INCA Road in Barangay Jayubo, Lambunao, Iloilo.

The area is around 12 kilometers from the town proper and sits adjacent to Barangay Cabatangan, a village that borders Iloilo province and Valderrama, Antique.

The school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is under the supervision of the Philippine Air Force.

“That’s one school na possible na pwede silang mag-recruit. Malayo sa town proper at malapit sa guerilla base,” Sison said.

But he said that the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC)-6 has been actively doing around the  universities and colleges to consult awareness campaign on students, and even on out-of-school youth.

Even the Police Regional Office (PRO-) 6 believed that the NPA has a hard time recruiting in schools.

Brigadier General Leo Francisco, Western Visayas police chief, said that they did not monitor students joining NPA front organizations.

“Kukunti o walang estudyante ang sumasama si masama sa rally,” he said.

With the Philippine Army at the forefront of the internal security operations (ISO) campaign, Francisco vowed PNP’s support in the government’s goal to topple the NPA by 2025.