By LITO RULONA
THE commander of the Army’s 403rd Brigade claimed that the military has a list of Cagayan de Oro students from various schools in the city who were recruited to the New People’s Army (NPA).
Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, the brigade commander, said the military would present the list if the schools mentioned by rebel surrenderers as alleged breeding grounds for communist rebellion raise questions.
De Leon said the list details the names of the recruits and the courses they took which the schools could use for validation and crosschecking.
On Friday, two women presented by the military as rebel surrenderers alleged that the NPA recruited students from Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro College, Capitol University, Pilgrim Christian College and even in the state-run University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines.
One of the women named a group of supposed COC students who were allegedly recruited into the NPA. The names she gave were Ismael Magbanua, Leo Wabe, one Dodong Habagat and a certain Lagom.
The alleged surrenderer, identified only as “Lalaine,” the COC students eventually armed themselves and joined NPA units in different areas in Mindanao.
Magbanua, she said, was an accountancy student who was subsequently killed in an armed encounter in 2009.
She said Wabe, Habagat and Lagom are still fighting in Bukidnon.
Lalaine alleged that Wabe’s group included recruits from Xavier, CU and the state-run USTP.
She also claimed that rebels would enter schools like Xavier, CU and Pilgrim disguised as students. They claimed they did this by simply wearing the schools’ prescribed uniforms.
Lalaine alleged that with the help of a female college instructor, they managed to infiltrate Pilgrim.
“Daghan kaayo to sila,” she said.
Lalaine claimed the order to conduct extensive recruitment operations came from a “higher command based in Metro Manila,” and these were supposedly carried out from 2009 to 2018.
Lalaine, 34, said she started becoming involved with the rebel movement by working for a party-list group that paid for her tuition at COC through a scholarship grant. She identified the group as Anakbayan.
Anakbayan however is neither a party-list group nor is it known for having any scholarship program. It is an organization of youth activists.
Gen. de Leon said the military is open to the idea of meeting with school administrators.
“We are very willing to visit the schools and discuss this with the school officials to clear things out. We can even help the schools through public information, and to prevent recruitments [in the campuses]. One approach is through the ROTC,” he said.
There are moves to restore the ROTC or the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in schools.
“We have the communicators for a massive information [campaign]. We can even present Lalaine and Dina, na magpunta sa kanilang paaralan on the condition na i-alis nila ang kanilang mga face masks after the program,” de Leon said.