The government's anti-communist task force on Monday claimed majority of the New People's Army (NPA) members belong to indigenous tribes who were forcibly recruited.
Gaye Florendo, assistant spokesperson on indigenous peoples (IPs) concerns for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, said "70 to 80 percent" of communist rebels who surrendered were IPs.
Florendo noted the issue "has existed for a long time," adding the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines continue their "rampant disinformation and intentions to deceive the people."
In a virtual briefing, she said there was a "pattern of radicalization and confinement" done by the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-National People's Army-National Democratic Front) that is forcing IPs to become members of the rebel group.
In the same forum, Datu Bawan Jake Lanes, who claimed to be a former member of the NPA and now executive director of the Mindanao IP Council of Elders, explained communist rebels would first conduct research on problems being faced by IP communities, particularly issues surrounding their ancestral domain.
The NPA, he added, would use the church and nongovernment organizations "by offering itself as a partner that could give a helping hand to solve IP problems."
"Once they have the permission, they will organize, putting up schools for the youth while the male IP members are taught to be 'Militia ng Bayan' while the women are taught to support the struggle and the leaders would become revolutionary leaders," he said.
Any resistance from IP leaders "are penalized with death." Once the IPs are organized and exploited, some of the tribe members would be brought to Manila through a yearly march supposedly called "Manilakbayan" that sought to "plant combatants in strategic areas in the metropolis."
Marlon Bosantog, the task force's spokesman on IP concerns, said the abducted IP students taken to Cebu were trained and organized by Karapatan.
Bosantog said a motion for reconsideration has been filed questioning the Davao del Norte provincial prosecutor's decision clearing seven lumads of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, human trafficking and child abuse.
The prosecutor junked the complaints against the "Bakwit School 7" for insufficiency of evidence and lack of probable cause.
These lumads were among the 26 persons arrested in a "rescue operation" by authorities at the University of San Carlos Talamban campus in February.