AFP official: Cebu youth target of CPP recruitment

AN ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force Cebu official said the youth sector in Cebu has become the target for recruitment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Colonel Joey Escanillas, commander of the AFP Joint Task Force Cebu, made the statement on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, during the 2022 Dagyaw Town Hall Meeting Cebu leg held at Cebu Parklane International Hotel.

Escanillas said youth or student organizations, particularly in Cebu, are one of the most vulnerable sectors that the CPP politicizes and manipulates into becoming a strong agent to hasten the evolution of a revolutionary situation in Central Visayas.

"The CPP intends to take advantage of the unpolluted, idealistic nature and positive attitude that the youth possess and use such a mindset to supplement their ongoing political struggle," said Escanillas.

"May mga organizers na papasok sa schools and then yun ang mag e-engage dun sa mga makikita nilang may potensyal na students...kakausapin nila isa-isa one at a time ere-recruit nila or grupo and ask problems in schools and teach problems of the government," he added.

(There are organizers who will go to the schools and then they will engage with those they see who have potential...they will talk to them one by one and they will recruit or group, and ask problems in schools and teach problems of the government.)

Data from the AFP as of December 2021 showed that 609 members of at least four known activist groups in Cebu -- Anakbayan-Cebu, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and the League of Filipino Students (LFS) Chapter -- are youth.

Additional data showed that from 2019 to 2022, rallies participated by youth groups had been increasing by three each year; 2019 (6), 2020 (9), 2021 (12), and 2022 (15 from January to August.)

With this information, Escanillas said it is already a wake-up call, particularly for education government agencies, to monitor student activities and grant them enough recognition.

He said the government should initiate more activities to empower the youth sector to prevent them from joining communist groups.

Among existing youth programs of the government are Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and Katipunan ng Kabataan (KK), National Youth Commission, Philippine Youth Development Plan, Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT), and Youth for Peace and Development Philippines, among others.

Krisland Pepito, president of the Youth for Peace Bisdakk, expressed support for adding youth-centered programs to spare them from joining terrorist groups.

"Communist ways of recruiting the youth are through peace camps ...but they teach them how to use guns and bring them to upland areas. On our side, we also have these peace camps where we eject to our youths the benefits of the government," said Pepito.

Shella Carpina, president of the Supreme Student Government of Cebu Normal University, denied allegations on behalf of the Cebu City Federation of Tertiary Supreme Student Councils and Governments (CCFTSSCG) and said they do not entertain communist groups nor participate in any of their activities to address youth concerns.

Carpina also reiterated that CCFTSSCG had been closely coordinating with the local government units to address youth problems.

"We would be happy if the AFP could set a meeting with us...and let them know we are not the enemy...we are with you in this triumph," said Carpina. (HIC)