BANGUED, ABRA – Governor Maria JocelynValera-Bernos confirmed that some high school students in their upland municipalities were recruited by the New Peoples Army (NPA).
She said that the NPA continues to do desperate moves to increase their members by recruiting high school students.
These students were children of families with low income, she added.
“Those high school students that were forced to leave the school and their parents because they were promised to receive money. Thinking that the promised money is true, they joined the group,” Bernos said.
The governor said that they are still confirming the numbers of high school students that were recruited but she said that she often caters to parents visiting her office asking for help to win back their children from the NPA.
“We feel sad and worried because these trouble makers are recruiting innocent children out of their desperation. And they’re not just merely stealing these children from their parents but also robbing them their future, their future to become good and successful citizens contributing progress for our region,” Bernos said.
To prevent further recruitment of the students, the provincial government has tasked the Department of Education (Dep-Ed) Abra to monitor the enlisting activity of the NPA.
“Dep-Ed is a member of our Yes for Peace Task Force, organized to monitor, create and implement programs to counter the insurgence. But since they have direct supervisions in the schools, we tasked them as the lead agency to prevent the enlistment. We also asked the support and cooperation of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) and the barangay officials to assist the teachers for more effective prevention,” the governor said.
Abra is a landlocked province in the western side of the Cordillera region. The western part is where the Abra River flows towards the coastal plains of Ilocos Sur. Its deep valleys and sloping hills are enclosed by rugged mountains.
As a politico-military province, the history of insurgence in the province has also been experienced for many years. But due to continued works and effort of the provincial government together with the 41st Infantry Battalion, provincial police office, and other government line agencies, the numbers of insurgent members decreased. This is after several counter-insurgence programs were successfully launched.
“They usually do their recruitment in our upland municipalities like Boliney, Tineg, Lacub, Malibcong and Baay-Licuan. And they target students with low family income. But since we started several programs and projects benefiting these municipalities, they also exert effort to continue their operation,” Bernos said.
Currently, the provincial government of Abra conducts the Peoples Day program, a one day event conducted every month. During this day, both national and local government line agencies bring their services and programs direct to the community.
The Peoples Day program banners the project called the “Joy HELPS”. Under this project, the intended beneficiary receives services on Health, Education, Livelihood, Projects on infrastructure and Social services (HELPS).
The provincial government is continuously working to end the insurgency by creating the Yes for Peace Task Force. The task force is composed of all government line agencies. It is charged to closely monitor the activities of the insurgence and to implement programs beneficial to the Abranians. DIONISIO B. DENNIS JR. / ABN
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