Government security forces have been making their presence felt in colleges and universities in a bid to prevent recruitment of students to join the New People’s Army (NPA), a top military official said on Wednesday.
Gen. Gilbert Gapay, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said that while some groups and individuals repeatedly deny the recruitment of the NPA in colleges and universities, past clashes with communist rebels proved that college students are being convinced to join the armed struggle against the government.
“We go to various schools, universities to really inform them of the threat of the NPA recruitment. The front organizations of the rebels have been saying that it is not true but just recently, our troops on the ground have engaged in encounters with students (from) PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines) and UP (University of the Philippines),” said Gapay.
He said that aside from the students themselves, it is the parents that suffer the most based on past experiences wherein parents would only know that their children had been recruited after their deaths in the encounters.
“All along, they thought that their children were in school but they did not know that their children were already recruited and were being exposed to training in battle and being taught to shoot,” said Gapay.
But Gapay said that their presence in the schools along with the Philippine National Police (PNP) is more on leadership summits and other awareness programs.
“This is what we are addressing, the awareness program that this is the modus of the NPA. They would capitalize on youth idealism and adventurism and they cannot go out because they are being threatened that they would be killed,” said Gapay.
“We are doing this to really develop the students into responsible, patriotic citizens of our country. In all these activities, we are joined by the PNP in really protecting our youth from NPA recruitment,” he added.