By DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — Despite the earlier commitment of Baguio City Schools Division Superintendent Mary A. Lang-ayan that they would pull out the Memorandum 68 issued by the Department of Education (DepEd) Baguio City Division last June 26, allowing elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct symposium in public schools, the military campaign still continues.
Langayan made the commitment before representations made by officers from human rights and women’s organizations here citing human rights violations made in the conduct of such military campaign.
On August 18, more than 40 fourth year high school students from Pines City National High school Pinget Annex became captive audience to one of several such symposia being conducted by members of the Philippine government armed forces. The latter also showed their campaign material powerpoint presentation, “Knowing thy Enemy.”
The lecturers discussed and maliciously cited certain progressive organizations as supposed legal organizations of the New People’s Army’ (NPA). The lecture was reportedly facilitated by a certain Rudolf Balanay from Camp Allen.
Some minors present during the said lecture disclosed in an interview that among the groups mentioned as NPA legal organizations are Anakbayan and Anakpawis. Balanay also reportedly told the student audience that most new NPA recruits come from the various campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP).
Nordis tried to interview teachers from the said school but they begged off and told the reporter to first get the permission for an interview by the school’s teacher in charge. The teacher in charge at the time was in a meeting and cannot be disturbed.
During the said lecture the students were encouraged to ask questions, but at the same time they were told the names of those who will ask questions would be listed. Some students did not raise questions for fear of being tagged as an NPA member and thus included as members of “NPA legal organizations.”
The minors interviewed also disclosed that those who had been brave enough to ask questions were given “childish and insufficient answers.” One student asked, “Why then are the members of these organizations and UP students not being arrested if they are NPAs?”
Balanay told the students there were evidences to prove the AFP allegations but members of the identified groups cannot be arrested because there are organizations are considered as legal. He said the members would only be arrested if they committed a criminal offense such as illegal possession of firearms.
Other students asked about the aim of the NPA and about who are usually recruited into the group. Balanay replied the NPAs wanted to turn the Philippines into a communist country and that they recruit the youth, even high school and elementary students.