By LITO RULONA
NOW, the schools.
Two masked women, presented as communist rebel surrenders by the military yesterday, identified schools here as breeding grounds for New People’s Army (NPA) recruitments.
During the Talakayan forum of the Philippine Information Agency, the women claimed that the NPA has recruited students right inside the campuses of the city’s top universities and colleges. Their faces were covered during the forum but they showed it to reporters afterwards on the condition photos and videos would not be taken for security reasons.
One of the alleged surrenderers identified only as Lalaine claimed 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.
She said some recruits were also from another state-run institution, the Mindanao State University in Marawi City.
In her case, the 34-year-old Lalaine said her recruitment started when she became involved with the party-list group Anakbayan as a student at COC.
Lalaine said she was studying at COC in 2004 and became a “council member” of the education department.
She claimed she enrolled through a scholarship program of the Anakbayan that gave orientations inside classrooms.
“At the start, we were given orientation by Anakbayan kung unsa ang mga karapatan sa mga estudyante,” she said.
Lalaine said the organization then capitalized on concerns about COC’s tuition increase and made students strongly oppose it.
Before joining the NPA, she claimed, she was a member of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM).
Lalaine said she recalled that when she joined other students in pledging their commitment to KM, “nag-hawid kami og bala.”
Lalaine claimed she and other recruits held key positions in the NPA, and some of her contemporaries were killed during clashes with the military in Bukidnon, Agusan, and Zamboanga.
Barangay Macabalan, according to Lalaine, became one of their bases at one time.
She said she married another NPA rebel who is still holding a key position in a rebel unit.
Lalaine supposedly surrendered to the military this January after serving the NPA in the Mt. Kitanglad area in Bukidnon.
Another alleged surrenderer, Dina, claimed to have served as a finance officer of the NPA.
She claimed to have withdrawn money given as overseas donations to the NPA.
Dina also claimed to have withdrawn millions of pesos from a bank.
She claimed she surrendered because of her children, and left her rebel-husband behind. Dina said her husband serves as a NPA platoon leader in Caraga.