Army: NPA recruitment in schools not alarming

Brigadier General Archibald Macala, PRO-6 deputy regional director for administration; Juan Jovian Ingeniero, DILG regional director; and Major General Benedict Arevalo, 3rd ID commander during the signing of the memorandum of agreement on “Peace, Security, and Safety of Educational Institutions of Basic Services and Support Pursuant Thereto.” (Jennifer P. Rendon photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

As far as the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, the New People’s Army (NPA) recruitment is not 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.

When asked how many schools are considered hotbeds of rebel recruitment, Arevalo said it’s just a handful.

But whether it’s alarming or not, Arevalo that they take it seriously.

“One student recruited is too much. One life is too much,” he said.

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

But Arevalo did not confirm if these schools are still deemed as cradles of recruitment operations in Panay Island.

Arevalo made the statement on NPA recruitment following the signing of memorandum of agreement on “Peace, Security, and Safety of Educational Institutions of Basic Services and Support Pursuant Thereto.”

Representatives from eight government agencies and institutions have come together to formalize their efforts against NPA recruitment in schools.

The signatories include:

* Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)

* Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

* Department of Education (DepEd)

* National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency (NICA)

* Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division

* Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6)

* Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

* Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas High School

* Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)

The signing was done at the Madia-as Hall at Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) headquarters in Camp Delgado, Iloilo.

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