Former rebels recount being recruited in universities
Former rebels on Wednesday told a Senate hearing they were recruited to be a member of leftist groups as students in Manila.
During a Senate hearing on the missing minors allegedly recruited by leftist groups, a former rebel said leftist groups recruit students in different universities.
"If you will ask me if there are recruitment inside schools, definitely. We are the concrete proof of it. I was recruited and we recruited more," former rebel Agnes Reano told Senator Ronald dela Rosa, head of committee on public order and dangerous drugs.
According to Reano, who became a recruiter for the National People's Army, the minors were told that the organization is doing activities that are "for the country."
"For the country we needed to be armed. We believed them," she said.
Another former rebel, a 21 year-old who called herself Allem, also recounted her experience as when she was recruited by the League of Filipino Students at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 2014.
She said she was convinced to join after the group talked to them about contractualization. Allem said she thought of joining because her mother was also a contractual worker.
"They noticed that I was interested to know more so they kept on talking yo me about it. By October 2014 I joined LFS. For three years I was a student activist," she said.
After three years in the organization, Allem formally joined the New People's Army.
"In October 2017, I was deployed to a unit in Mindanao. I spent three months in Bukidnon and another three months in Compostela Valley," she said.
Also during the hearing, she told that she knew some of the missing minors. She said they were told that if they will surrender, they will be tortured or killed by military.
"They engraved into our minds that if we will surrender or if we get captured the military will torture us. I know that by speaking here my life might be in danger but I wanted to tell everything because I personally know the children of the mothers here. I feel like I'm also responsible why they are still missing," she explained.
Allem said they were taught by the leftist group to blame all the killings to the military.
"I also had an experience during an encounter between our group and the military. Some of us killed a civilian but our commander told us not to tell the people that it was us who killed the person. Instead, they told us to say that the military was the one who killed him," said Allem.
Two former rebels identified as Nancy Dologuin and Alvin Turero shared their experiences as a member of the leftist group. Similar to Reano and Allem, the two were also recruited at a young age.
Dologuin, currently a member of the national triathlon , said even after leaving the group and surrendering to the military, she experienced discrimination from the society.
"Even though you already left, your life will never be normal again. I have tried to make my life normal but it never happened. I experienced discrimination and being judged even during job applications," she said. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS