Charges will be filed against candidates running in the October 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) who will be supported by communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and their front organizations, a government task force warned.
Prosecutor Flosemer Gonzales, Region 6 spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said this during the weekly press conference dubbed “TAGGED Reloaded: Debunking Lies By Telling The Truth” aired on government TV on Monday.
Specifically, the National Youth Commission’s regional offices have been coordinating with the Office of Vice President and concurrent Department of Education Secretary Sara Duterte to closely monitor schools, especially those that are vulnerable to recruitment activities by CTG front organizations.
Duterte was earlier designated co-vice chairperson of NTF-ELCAC along with National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.
The NTF-ELCAC is led by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
The officials did not say how they would verify a link between an election candidate and a would-be communist supporter.
Both Gonzales and NYC chair Undersecretary Ronald Cardema, who was also present at the event, said they were dismayed at what the former called “from books to armalite” brand of recruitment by CTG-linked groups among students and even the out-of-school youth.
They said this practice promotes armed violence and a bloody overthrow of the government.
They appealed to school administrators and teachers not to aid recruitment activities by groups like the Anakbayan, the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), Gabriela, and Anakpawis, among others, as” they too are not immune from legal suit.”
“To teachers, especially school administrators, who teach our students to bear arms, you are criminally liable. We will do anything to file charges against you,” Gonzales said.
Cardema supported this and underscored the need to prevent these fronts from conducting recruitment activities among students to support SK candidates that will be bankrolled by the CTGs.
“All areas are being monitored through our regional NYC offices. Even the teachers’ ranks, they should be monitored. Teachers serve as advisers to these students. If we can stop all these recruitment activities, the NPA will die down naturally. Why? Because they can’t recruit senior citizens to become terrorists,” the NYC chair said.
Gonzales said the role of the Vice President is crucial to barring NPA recruitment in schools.
“They (fronts) will not succeed in our schools through the help of the Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte,” he said, adding that “critical thinking” should not be used as an excuse in allowing students to associate with CTG fronts.
In the press conference, the NTF-ELCAC played a video of 23-year-old “Ana,” a former psychology student from the University of the Philippines-Cebu (UP-Cebu), who got recruited to the New People’s Army (NPA) in 2022.
With all the information she provided to her parents and relatives, Ana was rescued by Army operatives last November in Negros Occidental. Had she not joined the NPA, Ana could have been an accomplished degree holder.
“Recruitment is a reality, it’s happening. ‘Ana’ is a classic case of ‘from books to armalite’. But because of love and care by her parents, our Army soldiers were able to get her back to her family,” Gonzales said.
“Now, she was being threatened by the NPA because these terrorists blamed her for their series of defeats from military operations. Love conquers all, indeed. Ana will have a beautiful life outside the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front),” Gonzales said.
“If you are hiding under what you call ‘critical thinking’, please don’t allow our students to be recruited by front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF. These people have no respect for human life,” he stressed.
“The life of their recruits, our young students, always end up in tragedy,” Gonzales, who appealed directly to school administrators and teachers.
He also cited the demise of eight young recruits who perished from hunger recently somewhere in Northern Luzon.
“These NPA recruits came from Mindanao, they belonged to an indigenous people or IP. The CPP-NPA-NDF even calls these young victims martyrs. What a height of hypocrisy!” Gonzales stressed.
For his part, Cardema, who claimed he was once a KM recruit from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, the CPP-NPA-NDF fronts had exploited the “idealism” of students to recruit them as New People’s Army fighters.
“Our focus now is to fight youth recruitment in schools and communities by the NPA. It’s time to prevent this for the sake of natio- building,” he said.
Cardema cited Mr. Marcos’ “Youth and National Building Act” that he sponsored when he was a lawmaker.
The battle, he added, will also continue in Congress, where remnants of the Makabayan bloc “continue their lies and deceptions.”
“Through the NTF-ELCAC, we’re able to reduce their number. Noon ay walo sila hanggang sa naging anim. Ngayon, tatlo na lang sila (They were eight, then they became six. Now, they’re down to three),” he said.