Screenshot of Choyax Cagape's Facebook post, alleging that communist rebels are actively recruiting UP-Mindanao students to the New People's Army. Cagape is an alumnus of the Davao City-based state university.

DAVAO CITY – A University of the Philippines-Mindanao (UP-Min) alumnus has confirmed that recruitment activities are being carried out by the communist New People’s Army (NPA), sometimes even with the help of their mentor.

“Yes, there is (an) active recruitment. Let me correct you in your denial that there is no active recruitment on UP campuses. There is, and it starts with the words critical thinking,” Choyax Cagape, a former UP Min student, said in a Facebook post on May 14.

Cagape was responding to denials made by some of his classmates about the supposed NPA's non-existent recruitment activities inside UP-Min.

As of this writing, the post gained over 2,500 reactions, 251 comments, and 1,500 shares.

Most of the netizens who commented on Cagape's post appreciated him for his bravery, while some offered corroborations about his claim, citing their own experiences with the school as well.

“To my classmates in UP Mindanao, I do not know how to react when you post denials that there is no active recruitment of the NPA in UP Mindanao. I do not like to post arguments on your posts, so I will just make my own,” Cagape said.

Cagape narrated that when he was then the election body chairperson of the student body in his first year, a teacher introduced him to "subversive ideology."

“You all know her; she called me an admin loyalist when I did not postpone the elections due to lack of ‘representation of all the sectors of the student body. Even to the point of calling me a bourgeoisie," he said.

Cagape claimed he knew some classmates and or other UP-Min students who went to the mountains without finishing school because they had already been recruited by the NPA.

“And yes I visited one of the ‘offices’ of leftists off campus, and it was filled with Maoist propaganda, a newspaper filled with anti-government sentiments,” he said.

More proof

Arian Jane Ramos, former secretary of an NPA unit under the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, said her journey with the NPA started with being an activist until she was introduced to NPA's legal fronts inside the school.

Ramos is a UP-Min Bachelor of Arts in Communication graduate.

Ramos said schools have been the NPA's favorite recruitment grounds, attracting students to join leftist groups first then recruiting them to be party members. The final step would be to join the armed struggle in the mountains.

Ramos recalled that it was during an election in their school that they were introduced to the candidates under the Alyansa ng mga Aktibong Kabataan ng UP Mindanao (ANAK UP-Min).

“Their lines were very sharp. They were discussing educational issues, economics, politics, international relations in the Philippines,” she recalled in an interview Thursday.

The Anak UP Min, according to Ramos, is a coalition of NPA fronts inside the campus.

However, Ramos said she did not join the ANAK UPMin, and instead, she became interested in the Gabriela Youth as she was very interested in women's issues and gender equality.

Their group created the UP Mindanao Gabriela Youth Chapter, which later expanded to other universities to recruit students and organize more school-based chapters.

“Then I was introduced to Makibaka, the underground mass organization of women, Independent Movement of Modern Women. I was given orientation, so there, I found out that it was guided by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),” Ramos said.

Ramos blamed her radicalization on the exposure she had with NPA front organizations inside UP-Min.

Meanwhile, Joy Saguino, the former secretary of the NPA Guerrilla Front 20, challenged the UP Board of Regents and Chancellors to make a clear stance on NPA's recruitment within the campuses of UP.

"If critical thinking is vital to the institution in pursuit of truth, where’s critical thinking in this series of denial when more than a handful of UP alumni either have died in battles or have returned to the mainstream, alive and are sharing their untold stories? Some even remain to be active NPA leaders up to this date," she said in an online post on Wednesday.
 
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.

The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)