MANILA (DPA) - The Philippine military plans to deploy soldiers to colleges and universities in a bid to counter alleged efforts by communist rebels to recruit students through front organizations, a spokesman said on Tuesday (Aug 20).
Officials from the armed forces were coordinating with school administrations regarding the troop deployment, according to Colonel Noel Detoyato, chief of the military's public affairs office.
"This is not only a military suggestion," he told reporters. "Local government units are also pushing for it due to the very rampant recruitment in schools. We will be there to assist school authorities to neutralise (communist rebel intrusions) at the schools."
Col Detoyato said the military will not dispatch soldiers until cleared by school officials.
He declined to say which schools are being targeted, but noted that these were not just located in the capital of metropolitan Manila but also in the provinces.
Last year, the military identified 18 colleges and universities in metropolitan Manila, including the premier state university, the University of the Philippines, as recruitment hubs for the communist New People's Army (NPA).
The recruitment is supposedly being done by leftist groups, farmers, workers or human rights organisations and other activist groups that are alleged to be fronts for the NPA, the armed wing of the rebel Communist Party of the Philippines.
Communist rebels have been fighting the Philippine government since the late 1960s, making the movement one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.
President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks with the communist rebels in November 2017. Efforts to resume the talks have failed amid escalating attacks by the guerrillas.