MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, August 13, expressed reservation about the proposal to increase police visibility in schools to deter the supposed recruitment efforts of Leftist groups.
"I wonder kung (if) the presence of police will stop recruitment, because recruitment[s] are usually done in secret," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told a press conference.
"Ang presence ng police (The presence of police) can prevent any crime committed inside the campus. Pero (But) recruitment? I don't think na (that) it will solve. Unang-una (First and foremost), recruitment doesn't even have to be in schools," he added.
Panelo made the remark after former police chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa sought the enactment of a law that will allow "intensified police visibility" in schools and universities amid alleged efforts of communist rebels to recruit minor students.
During the August 7, 2019 hearing of the Senate public order panel chaired by Dela Rosa, parents complained that their children were allegedly recruited by Leftist groups.
On Sunday, Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año cited that Executive Order 70 could be invoked to increase police presence in schools "infiltrated" by communist insurgents as part of a "whole-of-nation approach" to put an end to insurgency.
The Philippine National Police on Monday, August 12, said it is already monitoring some school organizations.
Raising worry over the reported recruitment of students by Leftist groups, Panelo advised parents to warn their children against these groups and their ideology.
"We're concerned, especially because their parents are saying that some of their children are suddenly missing and then later on, nalalaman nila na nandoon pala sa bundok or namatay na o napatay na (they are finding out that they are either in the mountain, already dead or killed)," he said.
"Siguro ang suggestion natin sa mga (Perhaps, our suggestion to the) parents eh to tell their children that that ideology has long passed and it's passé, and they should not entertain joining any kind of subversive organization for their own sake," he added.
Panelo said it is "wrong" for students to join organizations whose intention is to topple the government.
However, he stressed that the Palace deemed it acceptable for activist students to join organizations that express "legitimate grievances against government."
"If the Left-leaning organization is found to be allied with organizations that are subversive of our democratic society, then it becomes wrong and illegal," Panelo said.
"Pero (But) you join organizations to express grievance, legitimate grievance against government, certainly it is not. It's part of freedom of speech," he added. (SunStar Philippines)