Self-proclaimed former University of the Philippines (UP) students-turned-communist rebels warned teachers, parents and incoming freshmen against supposed deceptive recruitment schemes of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) inside campuses with the beginning of the school year.
During Monday’s virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), three former rebels who at their young age joined the NPA narrated their ordeal on how they fell victim to the “arouse, organize and mobilize” (AOM) scheme of the underground movement allegedly using above-ground front organizations inside school campuses.
“Please huwag na po kayong maging radikal dahil hinding hindi po talaga makakamit ang isang bansang malaya sa pamamagitan ng paghawak ng armas,” said Ariane Jane Ramos alias “Ka Marikit”, who joined the underground movement in April of 2014 when was a student of UP Mindanao.
“Before that I was just one of the many Iskolar ng Bayan who was struggling to avail of an inaccessible education… I thought that Gabriela Youth is just on the legal side of the struggle but it opened a door – another door – a higher form of struggle, which is the armed struggle,” recounted Ramos as she said she eventually became an NPA rebel.
“After po ng graduation, after two weeks, nag NPA po ako… it’s a call for the UP system to paano maiwasan ang ganitong recruitment dahil ang gusto natin ay magandang kinabukasan para sa kabataan… Yung sinasabing kailangang makipagpatayan sa maging malaya ang isang bansa – hindi po talaga ito totoo. Kasi ang totoo ay dapat tayo ang magtulungan,” she said,
According to Ramos, UP played a “big role in giving a venue in radicalizing students because of the front organizations such as Gabriela Youth, Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, even in the Student Council organizations such as Anak UP Min, Stand UP.”
UP “allowed the students to be recruited and eventually join the New People’s Army,” the former rebel said.
“My story inside the revolutionary armed movement is still very painful for me to share but I’m sharing parts of it – napakahirap po. Usually, activists romanticize kung ano po talaga yung armed struggle. Sa totoo lang po. It is way beyond what I had expected. Akala ko nagkaka-level off kami doon sa loob ng movement, and that everyone is really genuine about the cause pero hindi po pala. So napakahirap po kasi hindi kayo nagkaka level off, at mahirap ang source ng pagkain, pamamaraan po ng guerilla warfare, ang sunod sunod na encounter at ang pinakamasakit sa lahat ay yung nakikita mo ang mga kasama mong namamatay at mismo ang mga inosente ang napapatay. Para sa akin ayoko na siyang maisip dahil napakasakit na experience,” she narrated.
Daniel Castillo alias “Ka Steven”, a former UP Diliman student who became a political instructor of NPA’s Guerilla Front 55, has another story to tell. It all started by reading the book of Jose Maria Sison, one of the founders of the CPP-NPA-NDF, entitled “Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino” (LRB) while in UP a few weeks after enrolment as a college freshman.
“I was also recruited but I didn’t join Anakbayan when I was first asked to join because I want to focus on my studies. I joined in my second year. It was this time during the time of PNoy when the issues of tuition fee increase and socialized housing system were hot issues and that most of the students opposed this. But after some time, I found myself organizing and also recruiting other students into the underground mass organizations. I was recruited from Anakbayan to Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and then from KM to the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Castillo said
“At first, I was just participating in rallies but then I also found myself recruiting other students, too. Imagine how rampant the recruitment is in the “legal fronts” of the CPP, so everyday we recruit students,” he added.
Meanwhile, Joy James Saguino alias “Ka Amihan”, former UP Visayas student and Secretary General of Guerilla Front 20 and First Deputy Secretary of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, said students are “deceived into believing the lies concocted by the CPP-NPA-NDF by exploiting social issues.”
Though “Ka Amihan” said, “hindi naman masama with being critical and attentive to social issues. It’s just that ang isyu ng ating society is being exploited by the CPP, especially now. We have to give a strong warning to our students. We can definitely express and exercise activism and be progressive and critical without being involved and affiliated to these organizations of the CPP/NPA/NDF.”
According to her, the people have to “take a stand” against “allowing our students to be recruited to underground groups and later to be part of the NPA.”
Saguino also warned teachers and students against the “continued exploitation of state universities and colleges by the CPP-NPA.