DepEd exec: Schools targeted by propaganda
MANILA, Philippines — A Department of Education (DepEd) official said Wednesday that schools “may become targets of propaganda” as “the youth, especially the out-of-school youth, become vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups and government forces.”
During a Senate public hearing, DepEd Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo cited information from years ago which showed “violent incidents, including armed conflicts,” affected more than 10,000 schools in parts of the country where the insurgency was thriving.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on Tuesday conducted an inquiry into the alleged continuous radicalization and recruitment of students in educational institutions to the local communist organizations. The hearing was led by panel chair Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police.
“[An] alarming data from Basic Education Information System (BEIS) reveals that from SY 2009-2010 to 2017-2018, 10,883 schools nationwide [have] reported the effects of violent incidents, including armed conflicts,” Escobedo said.
He also noted that the impacts of violent incidents, including armed conflicts, on schools were severe, ranging from damage to facilities and disruptions of classes.
Escobedo did not provide the list of schools in the BEIS data but noted that most violent incidents occurred in Mindanao, Bicol Region, and Eastern Visayas.
“Particularly concerning is the consistent presence of all six regions in Mindanao, as well as Regions V and VIII, among the top 10 regions each year with the highest proportion of schools affected by armed conflict,” he explained.
Escobedo stressed that armed conflict creates “unsafe environments” because learners face the risk of being victims of grave child rights violations.
“The youth, especially out-of-school youths, become vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups and government forces. Schools may also become targets for propaganda and recruitment purposes, endangering the safety of students and compromising the educational environment,” he pointed out.
Dela Rosa, meanwhile, said communist groups are drawing the encounters toward schools to implicate students.
“Ganon kawalanghiya itong mga New People’s Army (NPA) na ito. Alam nila ‘yang ginagawa nila. Gusto nilang lutuin tayo sa sarili nating mantika – eh kung ang mga tao ay hindi nagiisip, masama na naman ang gobyerno sa kanila. Sasabihin nanaman ng mga tao: Itong mga sundalo at pulis o, gine-giyera ang eskwelahan – pero ang NPA ang humihila ng giyera sa eskwelahan,” the senator said.
(That’s how shameless these New People’s Army are. They know what they are doing. They want to cook us in our oil – well, if people do not think, the government will again be the bad guy for them. People will say: These soldiers and policemen are waging war on the school – but the NPA is waging war on the school.)