Empowering Students: 53IB, Western Mindanao State University Launch Awareness Campaign Against CPP-NPA Recruitment

The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” Battalion (53IB) and Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) launched a Student Leadership Forum and Awareness campaign against Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) recruitment in a simple program at Barangay Bolatok, Pagadian City on March 08, 2021.

In the said program, 53IB and WMSU held a forum for the prevention and awareness against CPP-NPA recruitment with 5 school officials and at least 39 student leaders. WMSU currently has more than 820 students.

“The purpose of the forum is for the students to be aware that school is one of NPA targets of recruitment. It is important that the youth should be educated and guarded against the dangers of joining the communist armed insurgency,” 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said.

Lt. Col. Herrera told the students: “There is no problem of being activists and broadening your knowledge with different philosophies as long as you do not carry firearms and destroy lives and government and private properties. The battlefield has shifted to the battle of ideas and narratives in Social Media.”

WMSU OIC, Campus Coordinator Criselda Ricohermoso, who received the book, said: “This book will serve as an eye-opener and reminder to the students that they will not be deceived and recruited by the lawless CPP-NPA. Our gesture to accept this book is our way of supporting the advocacy of our men in uniform and of the government as well. Let it be known that it will mark the cooperation of WMSU with the Government to irradicate the menace in our society.”

“A year ago the flag of CPP-NPA declared persona non-grata at this campus with the burning of CPP-NPA flag. It symbolized the school’s condemnation of the communist terrorists’ inhumane acts, and to show support to the Philippine Government,” WMSU OIC, Campus Coordinator Criselda Ricohermoso said.

During the forum, Lt. Col. Herrera presented and provided copies of the Breaking Free (from Communist Deception) book and Crossing the Red Line Book, narrations of actual accounts of young people’s fateful journeys who were recruited and once deceived by the CPP-NPA but were able to surrender and went back to the folds of the law, for the WMSU Library.

“We will value, take care of the books, and participate in the fulfillment of its purpose. No words can express our cheerful hearts of our gratitude,” WMSU Student Council President Armando Furio Jr. said.

“I wish WMSU will use this book as part of your book review instructions for the students to understand the dynamics of peace and security in Zamboanga del Sur. It is my passion to share the lessons we can learn from the perilous NPA insurgency and empower our young people to become good leaders,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

With the initiatives of the 53IB’s combat and non-combat operations in collaboration with LGUs and NGOs, the Provincial Council recently declared the Province of Zamboanga del Sur insurgency free and peaceful ready for development with the dismantling of HQ KALAW Platoon and Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Lt. Col. Herrera said the Philippine Army is continuously conducting more initiatives to sustain the gains and maintain peaceful communities from the urban center to the far-flung hinterlands in the province.

The forum provided opportunities for the students to raise awareness and address their concerns to the Battalion Commander. “Sharing of Ideas and life experiences opens the minds of the youth,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

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