I HOPE and pray that Filipinos across the country would listen to PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde’s friendly advice for all Filipinos to watch out for recruitment activities by the New People’s Army in schools and universities. May I add too the need for all of us to be watchful of the grave danger of extremist groups specifically the ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf and Maute Groups recruiting and exploiting our children.
On Monday, I listened well when the PNP chief called on parents and school administrators to be wary of recruitment activities by the NPA amid growing cases of government scholars who have either been killed or arrested along with heavily-armed NPA guerrillas in the countryside, the latest of them an 18-year old student who was captured after joining a band of rebels who attacked the Victoria Municipal Police Station in Northern Samar on Thursday last week.
“As we usher the summer season with the culmination of the previous school year, I am taking the urgency of raising awareness among parents and school administrators to be mindful of students’ extra-curricular activities that are not sanctioned or approved by school authorities such as off-campus social immersion programs, teach-ins, symposia, social field work and community organization in areas of operation of armed units of the local communist movement,” Gen. Albayalde said.
The PNP chief was speaking from his long experience, knowing fully well that the communist movement thru its front organizations have been exploiting such activities to recruit fighters from among the ranks of unsuspecting students.
To illustrate his point, Gen. Albayalde said that one of the estimated 50 heavily-armed NPA rebels who attacked the Victoria police station turned out to be Aljon Tamuyang Cardenas, an 18-year old ‘student from Calbayog City.’ The Victoria policemen led by Lieutenant Eladio Alo repulsed the raid and killed three of the NPA guerrillas and captured Cardenas, said my friend, Police Regional Office 8 director, Brigadier General Dionards Carlos.
Another friend, Police Regional Office 4-A director, Brig. Gen. Ted Carranza likewise told me that one of the 45 NPA rebels who surrendered to them last week also confessed he was an NPA platoon leader in Quezon who in 2006 impregnated a student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman he identified only as ‘Sophia’ after the latter ‘immersed’ with their group. The rebel said that ‘Sophia’ gave birth to their child in 2008 but never returned to their mountain hideout since then.
According to Gen. Albayalde, some members of militant youth and student organizations are also known to participate in indoctrination and “social immersion” courses in clandestine training camps during school break, without their parents knowing about it. He added that there had been persistent reports of sighting and even active participation of some university students in some insurgent activities including armed engagements with government security forces.
He specifically mentioned the case of Cardenas, a student of the state-run University of Eastern Philippines in Calbayog City. “Cardenas is not the first, and hopefully he would be the last student to fall for the grand communist deception who allowed himself to be used as cannon fodder in this 50-year protracted war of the CPP-NPA that is going nowhere,” Gen. Albayalde said.
He also made clear the PNP stand on the matter: “As a general policy, the PNP recognizes academic freedom as important to promote critical thinking in our educational system. We have no problem with student radicalism, but the moment militant students take up arms to topple government, they become enemies of the state and subject to appropriate law enforcement response. God forbid but we do not want these unwary students to be along the line of fire when our maneuver forces launch a summer offensive in the CPP-NPA heartland in the coming weeks,” he said.
BRAVE VCTORIA POLICEMEN, POLICEWOMEN
KUDOS to the 18 brave men and women of the Victoria police station who stood their ground against overwhelming odds and live up to the motto of their old Constabulary predecessors: ‘always outnumbered but never outfought.’
The 18 are Lieutenant Eladio Alo, Chief Senior Master Sergeant Aimee Lutze Cadiente, Chief Master Sergeant Marlon Ordonia, Senior Master Sergeant Arnold Cabacang, Staff Sergeants Ramil Ramosa, Raul Francisco Jr. and Brande Esquillon, Corporals Bryan Ed Penaflor, Jaykari Laurio, Eddie Edwin Diaz, Tracy Silagan and Jake Salesa and Patrolmen Ronnel Goco, Marlon Estropigan, Errol Montopar, Geral Casyao and Jhonar Cris Bernades.
Gordo and Cabacang were also given the PNP Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting after they were wounded in defending their station. Gen. Albayalde conferred the prestigious medal to the Victoria policemen in recognition of their individual acts of courage and heroism against an overly superior number of enemy.
I learned that the 18 were given interim medals since the PNP promotions board is deliberating on their spot promotion. Carlos told me that two of the 18 are policewomen who helped their male colleagues change mags while firing shots too at the advancing rebels who were armed with M-16 and M-14 automatic rifles, one caliber 60 machinegun and rifle grenades.
However, the guerrillas underestimated the Victoria policemen who, although badly outnumbered had a fortified building and a rooftop—a standard for new police stations— which gave them a vantage position to repel the attackers, some of them women who wore military fatigues. Carlos said that four innocent civilians were also shot and wounded by an NPA blocking force near the police station.
However, it’s all not victory for our police force. A day after the NPA raid in Victoria was foiled, NPA gunmen killed Patrolman Wilfredo Padawil and wounded Corporal Eirphil Lapniten during a gunbattle in Bauko, Mountain Province. Our prayers for the soul of the fallen Padawil.