From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30, 2020): Anti-terror law to 'protect' youth from NPA recruitment (By Alexander Lopez)
BUTUAN CITY – A youth organization advocating for peace and development in Agusan del Norte has voiced support to the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, saying the measure will safeguard the young people from the influence and recruitment of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
Engr. Christian Kier Betito, president of the Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through our Youth, Inc. (POINTY), noted that the NPA commonly targets the young people for recruitment because they are the "most vulnerable sector in the society".
Betito, a resident here who has been working with different youth organizations to advance peace in Agusan del Norte, has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the anti-terrorism bill to "end the atrocities of the NPA rebels and prevent the spread of their ideology in communities".
“The Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) are out to destroy the moral in-depth beliefs of youths and influence them into aggression and rebellion against the government and lead them to engage in armed conflicts and fight for the wrong ideology,” Betito told the Philippine News Agency in an interview Monday.
Art Ervin Español, POINTY-Agusan del Norte vice president, criticized the communist rebel movement for using deception in recruiting young people "to fight for their wrong ideology".
The NPA, Español said, has deprived the youth that it managed to deceive "the opportunities to live peacefully, grow better, and dream big".
“With the anti-terrorism bill, I am positive that any deception that ruins the lives of every youth shall be penalized. Through this, every young individual will be given the opportunity to live a better life with their families,” he said.
Another youth leader, Karen Rosales, president of Youth for Peace in the Agusan del Norte town of Las Nieves, said it was regrettable to see the NPA recruiting the youth to fight the government "yet for decades, no one has been held accountable on such acts".
“No child and his family shall experience terror in their own homes, no child should have to forcefully choose between taking up arms or death, and definitely, no child shall be robbed off of his right to development and self-determination,” Rosales said.
She said that should the anti-terror bill be signed by President Duterte, "the grave injustice against the children and the youth will end".
“Terrorism victimizes the innocent, and a terrorist’s judgment only regards human life as an object to be used,” she said.
Government officials in the Caraga Region, including the leaders of indigenous peoples (IPs), have earlier called on President Duterte to sign the measure into law.