The Philippine Army in Agusan del Norte welcomed the recent move of the Department of Education (DepEd) in recognizing the threats of the continuing recruitment of the New People’s Army (NPA) in schools.
Lt. Col. Francisco Molina, the commander of 23rd Infantry Battalion told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday that top officials of DepEd Agusan del Norte convened on March 3 the 2nd Division Management Committee Conference to discuss the issues and concerns on NPA recruitment in schools.
“I was present during the conference where I told the top DepEd officials in the province about the result of our surveys and the outcomes of the series of information drives we conducted in different schools,” Molina said.
Molina added that it was the first time top DepEd officials in Agusan del Norte discussed the insurgency problem and the degree of NPA recruitment inside school campuses.
In February this year, a series of information drives were held by 23rd IB in different schools in the towns of Nasipit, Las Nieves, Carmen, and Buenavista in Agusan Del Norte.
Molina thanked DepEd officials in Agusan del Norte for convening the conference that provided schools heads the information on the degree of NPA recruitment in schools.
He said the conference, joined by 364 participants to include supervisors, school heads and guidance councilors, was held on Tuesday.
“The participants now realize the extent of NPA recruitment in their schools and the danger it posed to their students,” Molina said.
He added that the conference was also graced by Agnes “Lola” Lopez, the national president of People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment Inc. (PeACE, Inc.), an organization of former rebels in the country.
“Lopez urged the teachers in Agusan Norte to protect the students being their second parents inside the school campuses, especially from the manipulations of the NPAs, by inculcating not only academics but also good moral values,” Molina said.
During the conference, Lopez urged the teachers to solidify the sacrifices of the parents, value the efforts of the government, and encourage the children to finish their studies.
“Lopez called on the teachers, especially those who are members of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT Partylist) to refrain from recruiting innocent children to join the armed group, instead, be the good role model to students, as their future depends on how the teachers encourage students to reach their goals in life,” Molina said. (PNA)