MILF recruitment ploy bared

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MAJOR General Juancho Sabban, chief of the military’s Sulu-based Joint Task Force Comet, warned the public yesterday on the “deceitful recruitment strategy” of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels.

In a statement, Sabban said reports reaching his office showed that the MILF has been pledging “integration into the Armed Forces of the Philippines” as bait for conscription among innocent civilians who wish to join the military organization.

Sabban said the MILF recruiters are collecting P2,000 from their victims as membership fee.

“Though the number is insignificant, the MILF presence here in Sulu alone is already a proof of the veracity of the said recruitment as there was none before the peace talks began in 2001,” he said.

Sabban sees the recruitment activity of the MILF as “expansion to strengthen the organization.”

“Now, it is clear what this expansion is for. It is a clear anticipation of some MILF members for resistance against the Philippine government,” he added.

He commiserated with the victims, whose desire to join the armed forces was taken advantage of.

Sabban ordered the disruption of the MILF recruitment activities in the island province of Sulu, which comprises 19 towns.

He directed all military units in his area to launch a massive information campaign against propaganda or misinformation by the MILF.

“Your AFP will not allow such a deceptive strategy to continue. The MILF must be stopped from using illusive and false promises to lure membership, while demanding money,” he said.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, however, the MILF is giving up front P20,000 as initial monthly salary to anyone who joins the secessionist movement.

“They were given that much when they were recruited. After that first payment they don’t know when they will be paid again,” Sabban said.

He said that those who were recruited are jobless people, including farmers who were easily duped since they do not know the real situation in Mindanao.

They were advised to be on standby and wait for orders to report for duty, according to Sabban.