The New People’s Army (NPA) is targeting young individuals in their recruitment drive, a Bohol Philippine Army (PA) official said after the clash between state forces and the leftist armed group in Bilar that left one teenage rebel dead.
According to First Lt. Grace Remonde, spokesperson of the PA’s 47th Infantry Battalion (IB), the NPA is recruiting those aged between “15 to 30.”
“Batan-on g’yud na ilang mga target kay himsog pa, dali ra mo lihok unya agresibo kaayo. Dali ra pud danihon,” said Remonde.
The Army official noted that the rebel movement preys on the “impressionable” young and exploit their need for acceptance.
“Makakita sila og barkada, makakita sila og grupo nga dawat sila, ma sultihan sa problema,” she added.
During the latest encounter between the Bohol-based 47th IB and the NPA last week, five rebels were killed and three of them were under the age of 23.
Authorities earlier identified the young fatalities as Marvin Terig, 22, of Danao; Junrey Bucar, 20, of Bilar; and Edionela Nuera, 18, of Trinidad.
The two others who were gunned down were Joseph Bautista, 33, and Romeo Nabas, 54, vice commanding officer of the NPA-Bohol Party Committee.
According to Remonde, both Nuera and Bucar came from broken families.
She said the NPA may have taken advantage of their situation by offering them companionship before eventually recruiting them.
“Kaning si Junrey na taga Bilar, bulag iyang parents unya kadto pung babaye na batan-on didto sa Trinidad bulag pud ang parents,” Remonde said.
“Factor siya na pwede ma exploit na ma sulsolan…makakita sila’g barkada, grupo na dawat sila,” she added.
The NPA was also noted to have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic which they use to gain the sympathy of those whose livelihood have been affected by the health crisis.
Remonde said that under the leadership of NPA Bohol commander Domingo Compoc and Nabas, the communist guerillas ramped up their recruitment efforts.
“Sige to sila, kusog kaayo ilang recruitment,” she said on the NPA’s recruitment drive prior to the clash.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not the NPA’s recruitment will slow down following the fatal encounter which left five of its members dead.
“Sa karon na bag-o pa ang encounter, dili pa ta ka assess pero never mana sila mo undang,” she added.
To counter the aggressive recruitment drive, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the 47th IB have also beefed up their information campaign and outreach programs to reach out to areas deemed susceptible to recruitment of left-leaning groups including the NPA.
The Philippine National Police has also been distributing food and livelihood aid to remote villages of the province which are considered as “underserved” areas. (R. Tutas)