MANILA – The indigenous peoples (IP) communities have been a haven for the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) to recruit new members of the armed revolution, a former cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) revealed on Thursday.
Noel Legaspi, alias "Ka Efren", said the CTGs are primarily targeting the recruitment of IPs, as they are the most vulnerable sector for deceptions, radicalization, and exploitation.
These IPs communities, he added, are the most isolated, discriminated, and neglected areas in the country that can be easily infiltrated by the CTGs.
The CTGs are also targeting the very low literacy level of the IPs, he said, to impart the wrong ideologies.
Legaspi noted that the IP communities are geographically and topographically conducive for CTG's guerilla warfare, wherein most rebel lairs are located within the areas.
The CTGs also use the IPs' situations on land grabbing to agitate them to overthrow the government.
"These areas are the CTG's target to transform the backward villages into cultural bastions of the Philippine revolution, wherein the cultural cadres and cultural battalion arise in the countryside," Legaspi said during a virtual press conference.
He said one of the CTGs' strategies to speed up the recruitment and agitation process among targets—is to build IP schools.
The CTGs are using their own schools and education program to endorse the CPP-NPA's revolutionary courses.
Citing the recent study conducted by the 10th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army, Legaspi said about 83 percent of over 1,600 former rebels who surrendered to the government, are belonging to the IP tribes while 85 percent of them, only acquired grade school education level, and about 29 percent do not have formal education at all.
"This is a sounding proof of IP's vulnerability to exploitation, deception, radicalization, agitation, and recruitment," he said.
As a former NPA member, Legaspi bared the several implications of the CTGs' education program on the IP communities.
"It destroys the culture and tradition of the IPs. They are alienated from themselves. The radicalization of the IPs is tantamount to their extinction," he said.
He noted that the CTGs' education program promotes the destruction of genuine peace, particularly in far-flung communities.
To save the IPs from CTGs' recruitment and exploitation, Legaspi said the government has been pushing various intervention measures to make them feel that the IP communities are not left behind.
Legaspi cited the efforts of the anti-insurgency task force to end local communist armed conflict, particularly saving the IP youths from joining the armed movement.
He added that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has been rescuing IP minors in the far-flung communities before they could move to the mountains and become part of the CPP-NPA's armed revolution.
The rescued minors have undergone a 'deradicalization process'— the government's counter-interventions against the revolutionary courses that were instilled to the recruited ones, he said.
Meanwhile, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Chairperson Allen Capuyan said they have been talking to various IP organizations, especially the groups of IP minors in the areas of Mindanao, to expose the 'modus operandi' of the CTGs in recruiting more members.
The NCIP, he added, has been roaming on the grounds to educate more IPs about the harmful effects of the CTGs' revolutionary movements.
"There is an inter-agency collaboration among national agencies, security sectors, and local governments to end the armed conflict," Capuyan said.
He said they are focusing on the youth sector since minors are the primary targets of the CTGs for recruitment.
Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2018, Executive Order 70 created the NTF-ELCAC that institutionalizes a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace, giving the government an effective solution against communist terrorists.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)