Saturday, August 10, 2019

Army shields youth from Red’s recruitment

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 10, 2019): Army shields youth from Red’s recruitment

PROTECTING THE YOUTH. 1st Lt. Hazel Joy Durotan, Civil Military Operations officer of the Philippine Army's 61st Infantry Batallion, leads the conduct of the peace symposium and insurgency awareness in a high school in Iloilo province. Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commander of the 61st IB on Saturday (August 10, 2019), said the Army intensifies its effort to guard the youth against recruitment by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA). (Photo courtesy of 61IB)

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) has intensified its effort to prevent young people from being deceived and recruited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

Among the efforts being done by the Army is the conduct of peace symposium and insurgency awareness in national highs schools, and youth leadership training in municipalities.

"The rebel group’s recruitment ruins the future of the students who are the future of their families and the country," Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander, said in a phone interview Saturday.

The peace symposium and insurgency awareness campaigns were done in 10 high schools in the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz since it started in June this year, Batara said.

“We target junior and senior high schools, especially in schools located in the upland because they are the most vulnerable to CPP-NPA’s recruitment,” he said.

Video clips tackling the consequences of joining the armed conflict and the strategies of the rebels in deceiving the young minds were shown to the students.

The three-day youth leadership summit also left a positive impact on the youth. The Army organizes workshops during the summit, which builds camaraderie among the youth.

“They find new friends through the summit,” he said, adding that the summit also awakens the sense of volunteerism among the youth.

The Army conducts two youth leadership summits every quarter, Batara said.

Batara said the rebels deceive the students through presenting societal issues that were allegedly not addressed by the government.

Students in the upland villages are most exposed to recruitment as they seldom witness the development in cities and provinces, Batara added.

“They (rebels) exploit the students first, and then encourage them to go on villages for 'immersion'. Eventually, they will give the students firearms,” he said.

He said the recruitment by the rebels has put some of the teenager’s life at risk.

“Sometimes, in the encounters (between the soldiers and the rebels), we can see students being involved,” Batara noted.

He also pushed for the institutionalization of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) that 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 can 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.

Batara assured that the Army will continue to do its best to keep the youth away from the CPP-NPA recruitment activities and the armed conflict.

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.

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