Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday bared a watchlist containing 349 local and national government officials, who allegedly support the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) by form of extortion money and permit to campaign fees.
Año said based on intelligence reports received by the DILG, 349 local and national government officials have been identified as sources of financial aid of the communist rebels.
“We now have a watchlist, we know you. So if you are supporting communist rebels, in any way, you ascertain yourself as a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the state, you establish yourself as an accomplice to their cause,” he said.
“We cannot win the war against terrorism if these local officials continue funding the very source of terrorism in the first place,” he added.
He said the list included 11 provincial governors; five vice governors; 10 provincial board members; 55 mayors; 21 vice mayors ; 41 councilors; 126 barangay captains; and 50 barangay councilors.
Other source of extortion money are 11 former local government unit (LGU) officials, 10 incumbent congressman, and one former congressman.
“Can you just imagine that? Our own government officials giving funds to the enemy,” Año said.
“This number is not alarming as compared to the total number of barangays in the country, but it sends a message that extortion starts at the community level, down in the grass roots,” Año said.
DILG spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said that according to the same report, these cases involving the said local chief executives (LCEs) are distributed in all regions of the country, with Region 5 (Bicol) tallying the most cases with 154.
“Extortion money comes from everywhere, all across the nation. Whether these officials gave their support voluntarily or involuntarily is immaterial. Politicians and local leaders should shun any connection with these communist rebels. Do not harbor, support terrorists,” Malaya said.
He said Regions 10 (Northern Mindanao), 4 (Calabarzon, Mimaropa), 11 (Davao), 2 (Cagayan Valley) and 8 (Eastern Visayas) tallied 34, 26, 22, 21 and 20 officials financing CPP-NPA, respectively.
Region 6 (Western Visayas) has 15 CPP-NPA supporters, and Region 1 (Ilocos) and 12 (Socsksargen) with 12 a piece; 10 for Region 3 (Central Luzon); nine for National Capital Region; Region 7 (Central Visayas) with five; and Caraga, Cordillera Administrative Region and Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) registering the least with four, three and two officials.
Malaya encouraged local officials to report and work with local authorities especially the Philippine National Police (PNP) or Armed Forces of the Philippines units in their area if they are being harassed or forced by the Reds to pay revolutionary tax or other form of payments.
Don’t vote for CTG supporters
Año urged the public not to vote for candidates who support or who have links with communist terrorist groups (CTGs).
“Huwag po nating iluklok ang mga kandidatong may kaugnayan sa mga komunistang grupo (Let us not put in power candidates who have links to communist groups),” he said.
Año said based on the consolidated figures gathered by the intelligence groups, a total of P195.5-million was accumulated by the CPP-NPA from their various extortion activities nationwide during the 2016 and 2018 polls.
He enumerated that P300,000-P650,000 are collected by the communist rebels from governors and vice governors; P200,000-P500,000 from mayors; and P50,000-P100,000 from barangay officials.
Stop paying “permit to campaign fees”
Año also reminded all governors, mayors and all candidates in the May mid-term elections to steer clear of directly or indirectly giving financial, material and political support to the CPP-NPA for “permit to campaign fees” as it is a violation of the law.
“You do not need them to win nor to campaign. What you need is a robust platform and a desire to serve the people within your jurisdiction,” he said.
The DILG recently released Memorandum Circular 2018-211 reminding all local chief executives and LGU officials that giving any form of support to communist rebels is a violation, not only of Executive Order 733, but also of RA 10168.
In the said order, Año directed all Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Peace and Order Councils to apply moral persuasion or to recommend sanctions against LCEs supporting communist rebels.
PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, called on the candidates in the elections to report to authorities if they are victimized by the NPA in its extortion scheme.
“We would like to encourage those who have been affected or those who have been victimized by this extortion activities to come forward and file and lodge a complaint against these extortionists,” he said. (With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)