TACLOBAN CITY — The images are moving — five young, good-looking men and women in their early 20s who could easily pass as young professionals but instead have high-powered firearms slung on their shoulders.
One by one, they appeared on the screen reading a script on what’s supposed to be the socio-economic condition of Northern Samar that justifies one to take up arms against the government — issues like low wages, human rights violations and landlessness of farmers.
Their good looks evoke glamour in their advocacy, their age puts freshness in the lines they read that have been the mantra of the communist insurgency for over 50 years now.
The images are from a video produced by the Rodante Urtal Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) based in Northern Samar urging students, the intellectuals and the “petty bourgeoisie” to go to the countryside and join the armed revolution.
The video is among the so-called subversive documents that the military recovered when it launched a “surgical airstrike” on an NPA lair in Las Navas town last 2 October 2019.
Restless city kids
The Army’s 8th Infantry Division (ID) in Catbalogan City identified four of the five in the video as students from the National Capital Region (NCR).
They are Francis Ern Mariveles from Cavite, alias Ka Nico; Karen Mae Diaz from Sta. Mesa, Manila, alias Ka Gab; a certain Aelish, alias Ka Ned/Liu/Lovie; and a certain Ka Lucas.
Mariveles and Diaz were former students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila, Aelish is supposedly from the University of Sto. Tomas, while Ka Lucas is believed to be from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. The fifth person in the said video is a local NPA member from Northern Samar.
“Their militant leader’s ploy nowadays in the region is to go to NCR to get attention, gain sympathy and recruit student-activists from different schools/universities and eventually turn them into NPA combatants in Eastern Visayas,” the military said.
The ploy is corroborated by Rey Christian “Chan–chan” Sabado, a former first year student of PUP-Sta Mesa who was apprehended in Northern Samar and later admitted to being an NPA member.
In previous Senate hearings, several parents of PUP students, who were persuaded by militant groups to join their ranks, appeared and appealed to the left-leaning organizations to let go of their children.
Luisa Espina said her daughter started joining the activities of Anakbayan when she entered PUP, a state-run university perceived to be a breeding ground of youth activists in the country.
Espina said her daughter started joining protests during the second half of the school year, where at one point she found her joining other activists at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
Anakbayan is among the militant groups linked by the military to the NPA.
From white to red area
Brig. Gen. Ramil Bitong, deputy commander of the 8th ID, said the military is closely monitoring the movement of militant student organizations to stop attempts of bringing students from the “white area” to the “red area.”
“White area” refers to the legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA, while “red area” is for combat or the armed revolution.
Bitong said various militant organizations are turning to be the primary sources of fresh blood of the NPA.
“These are the people supporting the Reds. That is the very essence of the existence of the National Democratic Front, nothing more than to support the Red,” Bitong said.
“Government agencies are working very hard to address this student recruitment to become combatants,” he said.
The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a group formed to end local insurgency through a holistic approach, has been conducting a series of activities in different schools in Eastern Visayas to enlighten students on NPA recruitments.
A total of 75 engagements for the second semester of this year ranging from Career Guidance Symposium, Information Drive, Youth Leadership Summit and Campus Peace Awareness Dialogue in different schools and universities in Eastern Visayas were facilitated by the 8th ID.
The military stressed that the goal is “to save the youth from being recruited to join the communist groups through their front organizations.”