They start in seemingly innocuous activities – leadership training, journalism seminars, religious retreat, community exposure or forum on pressing social issues. But these activities are just entry points on what would later be a recruitment of fresh and young blood to the communist movement.
A group of parents, whose children have left their families to become full time activists or members of the New People’s Army are warning other parents to closely monitor the school activities of their children, the school organization they join and the people they associate with before it is too late.
They said that children, as young as 16, are being duped by so-called progressive organizations present in various schools into joining the communist movement and later are encouraged to leave their families to devote more time in subversive activities or become combatants in a guerilla war.
The group Hands Off Our Children cited as examples the fate of five young activists who were arrested in an early morning raid for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Gemma Labsan, a teacher and founding member of Hands Off Our Children, said they have talked to some parents of the five activists.
“We have given them all the information that they need but we will leave it to them to decide on what they think is best for their children and their family,” she said.
The groups met with the local media and also talked in a symposium in a local state university regarding the communist recruitment in schools.
Labsan, whose 16-year old daughter was recruited to join Anakbayan while enrolled as a senior high student in a university in Manila, said she didn’t find anything wrong at first when her daughter joined the organization.
“Like all the mothers that I have talked with, I thought it was an ordinary organization that can help develop the potential of our children,” she said.
But she noticed something was amiss when her daughter joined a campus journalism seminar at the University of the Philippines and found out she was being indoctrinated on the National Democratic Front, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA.
“I knew it because I got hold of her diary,” she said. “I call on the parents to find time to know what these organizations that our children are joining.”
Labsan said her daughter left their house and she was only able to recover her when she forcibly pulled her out from a rally during a State of the Nation Address.
Anabelle Sabado, the organization’s secretary, said the indoctrination of the young recruits include forsaking their family to devote more time to the movement and making it easier for them to join the armed movement.
“At one time my son said that he should address me by my first name instead of calling me his mother since we are equal. They are breaking relationships within a family,” she said.
Her son Christian, a former student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, was arrested in Las Navas town in Northern Samar last year while doing extortion activities for the NPA.
“I told my son before that there are only two things that will happen, either he will be jailed or he will die. I told him I would chose that he gets arrested because it will still give him a chance,” she said.
Sabado also revealed othe recruitment schemes. In the case of five activitists arrested in Tacloban, they were doing a donation drive supposedly to help defray litigation cost and other needs of arrested activists.
She said donation drive by different front organizations appears to be done automatically whenever an activist is arrested.
“Where does the money go? I never received a single centavo from them for my son. This is to raise funds for the communist group rather than to help the family of their recruit,” she said.
“Sa kanilang ginagawang propaganda, alam ba nila ang nararamdaman ng isang ina? Hindi madali para sa isang ina na makita ang kanyang anak sa loob ng isang kulungan. Ang mga kasama ko umiiyak sila. I didn’t cry because I know my son will draw his strength from me,” he added.
Government forces on 7 February arrested Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Marielle Domequil, Alexander Philip Abinguna, Marissa Cabaljao, and Mira Legion during a raid at the alleged communist group’s safe houses.
Recovered during the raid were two .45-caliber pistols, two magazine assemblies and 14 live ammunitions for .45-caliber, two fragmentation grenades, a red flag with CPP-NPA symbol, and P557,360 in cash.