MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday urged the government's education agencies to help them stop the alleged recruitment of communist rebels in some Metro Manila schools.
Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said they also need school administrators to help stop the so-called "arouse-organize-mobilize" scheme of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
"The students are agitated initially towards activism; mobilize them as militants, and finally recruit them as regular NPA (New People's Army) cadres," he said in a statement, referring to the CPP's armed wing.
"The AFP is reaching out to the DepEd, the CHED, and the administrators of some of the schools to prevent the said arouse-organize-mobilize scheme of the CPP-NPA," he added.
Arevalo clarified that the military was not stopping students from joining rallies but said protests should be done peacefully. He said the AFP will "prevent lawlessness" if rallies turn violent.
The AFP earlier released a list of 18 schools where they claim communists have been recruiting for the alleged "Red October" plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Arevalo said some schools on the list were still being validated. He said the military did not intend to brand the universities as communists but only wanted school officials to be aware of the supposed plot.
He said some parents reported "brainwashing activities" involving their children, such as film showings on the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, reenactment of martial law scenes during school breaks, and teleconferences with communist leaders.
Students and officials of schools on the AFP's list have denied the alleged recruitment in their respective campuses. Some students said this was just a tactic to stop them from joining rallies.
The AFP earlier claimed that the plot to overthrow Duterte began on September 21, the 46th anniversary of Marcos' martial law declaration. It is expected to peak this month and will supposedly last until December, when the CPP will mark its 50th founding anniversary.
Last year, Duterte terminated peace talks with the communists citing continuing rebel attacks against state troops despite ongoing negotiations. He also moved to declare the group as terrorists.
Most recently, the President ordered soldiers to neutralize communist rebels, saying it was the only way to address the communist threat.