Presence of NPA-run schools in SoCot monitored

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Aug. 2 — Government troops are monitoring several communities in a hinterland village in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato due to the reported presence of “fly-by-night” schools run by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Leander, commander of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, said Wednesday they received reports that the schools have been operating clandestinely in parts of Barangay Ned. He said these schools are mainly makeshift huts that are empty for most of the day and only operate from late afternoon until the evening.

Barangay Ned, located in the province’s boundaries with Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces, is among the remotest barangays of South Cotabato.

Leander said they are still confirming the exact location of the schools but noted that “there were many reports there.”

“They (rebels) gather tribal residents, including children, for evening sessions that focus mainly on fighting the government,” he said in a radio interview.

The Army official said these schools are not legitimate as they are not accredited with nor recognized by the Department of Education (DepEd).

He said the curriculum used by the schools are not official or based on standards set by DepEd.

Leander said there were “documentary reports” that showed the concerned schools were teaching tribal residents to take up arms against the government.

He said they were even abusing the singing of the Philippine national anthem by doing it with their own version.

“The NPA rebels and their sympathizers are mainly using these schools as cover for their illegal activities,” he said.

In line with these, Leander said they have stepped up their security operations in parts of the province to counter the movements of the NPA rebels.

He said they have received reports about rebel sightings these past weeks in some remote villages, especially in the province’s boundary areas.

South Cotabato province and this city are reportedly part of the operational area of the NPA’s Front 73.

The NPA has two other major fronts, 71 and 72, operating in the neighboring provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.(AVE/PNA)

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