Military intensifies intervention in schools

THE ARMED FORCES of the Philippines (AFP) has intensified its intervention in schools and universities across the country in compliance with the direction of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which was established through Executive Order No. 70. These are patterned after the “whole-of-nation approach” counterinsurgency campaign and is a major component of the AFP’s psywar operations (now dubbed “information operations”) across the country.

It primarily aims to dismantle the democratic organizations of students and impose fascist ideology in campuses. To actualize this, soldiers (in uniform and armed) conduct so-called youth fora, information drives, trainings, youth leadership summits in campuses. These activities vilify democratic organizations such as Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students and even progressive parties such as the Kabataan Partylist and Bayan Muna. In such activities, the said organizations are maliciously tagged as “communist fronts” or “NPA sympathizers” to illegalize these and justify the violent suppression of its their members. The AFP presents malicious videos, paid “victims” and fake surrenderees.

Among those recently conducted were youth and student assemblies in Mindanao, including the youth leadership summit in Mt. Moriah Camp, Malaybalay and the military visit at the Bukidnon National School of Home Industries. Similar assemblies were conducted by the 8th IB at the Bangcud National Highschool and Malaybalay National Highschool. The Bukidnon State University was most frequented by the AFP. On August 31, the AFP gathered around 280 youth participants from three barangays in Remedios Trinidad Romualdez, Agusan del Norte, in a forum wherein the military vilified progressive organizations. The 402nd IBde is also scheduled to conduct a “leadership development training” for Sangguniang Kabataan representatives from Butuan. The 3rd IB also assembled more than 150 youth from several barangays of Calinan, Davao City.

Similar assemblies are also conducted in Luzon and Visayas. The 303rd IBde conducted a forum at the University of St. La Salle Integrated School in Bacolod on August 23. The AFP also formally announced its plan to conduct a “youth leadership summit” for highschool students in Negros as part of its so-called Community Support Program. In Northern Samar, 803rd IBde troopers conducted school visits to conduct an “indoctrination campaign.” Among those they visited was the University of Eastern Philippines wherein a National Service Training Program seminar for students was held on August 31. As early as July, hundreds of youth have been assembled by AFP troops. The AFP also uses career guidance seminars for senior high school as venue to peddle malicious attacks and lies.

These psywar operations primarily target students and youth in provinces wherein focused operations are simultaneously being conducted by the AFP. The military has long been using this strategy in its operations, especially in far-flung villages.

On top of these psywar operations, cases of surveillance by AFP and PNP elements against student activists from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas have been reported as well. In Samar, the PNP Regional Mobile Group interrogated members of The Pillar, student publication of the University of Eastern Philippines. In UP Pampanga, police operatives trooped to the campus after students conducted their protest in conjunction with the UP Day of Walkout and Action. The Rise for Education Alliance in University of San Carlos-Cebu also reported surveillance against their campus activities by police operatives. Meanwhile, the 3rd ID announced that it will deploy its troops at the West Visayas State University and other universities including UP Visayas wherein the League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan are purportedly active.