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'Don't pay campaign fees to NPA rebels'

- Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jaime Laude () - March 5, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday warned candidates in the May polls against giving in to the New People’s Army’s demand for them to pay fees for permits to campaign and permits to win, saying this could be used as basis in filing charges against them and possibly disqualify them from the elections.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said candidates shelling out money to the rebels is considered financing the cause of the insurgents, who have been trying to overthrow the government.

“Under the law, once proven and in coordination with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), it is tantamount to disloyalty punishable under the Revised Penal Code,” Espina told The STAR.

“If it can be proven that a fee is made… they may be held liable as co-conspirators in the crime of rebellion,” he added.

This, as a military intelligence report said that at least 89 local and national candidates have allegedly enlisted the support of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA to boost their chances of winning in the May elections.

Most of these politicians were earlier reported to have allegedly paid the communists in the 2007 elections, and have been monitored to be continuously supporting the insurgents since then.

The report alleged that seized CPP-NPA documents show that 10 congressmen, nine governors and 31 mayors have tapped the “political services” of the rebels, who they have provided with financial and logistical support.

These politicians, according to the documents, are from the National Capital Region, Ilocos, the Cordilleras, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Western and Central Visayas, Western Mindanao, Caraga, and Southern Mindanao.

The intelligence report said a number of mayors, vice mayors, provincial board members, councilors and barangay chairmen have also given in to the rebels’ demand to pay permit-to-campaign and even permit-to -win fees ranging from P2,000 to P300,000 monthly.

Some of them have allegedly been paying quarterly dues to the insurgents since 2007, while others have provided the rebels with firearms, rice and other foodstuff. 

PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa has urged local and national candidates to seek police and military protection instead of yielding to the rebels’ permit to campaign, which he described as an extortion scheme.

“Our problem is that we have no one to corroborate this on the part of the candidates. They should cooperate with us because what the rebels are doing is plain and simple extortion,” he said.

Among the areas where the NPA is again active in demanding permit to campaign are Quezon province, parts of Rizal and Palawan, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, and most parts of the Bicol region, especially Masbate and Sorsogon, the PNP said.

Meanwhile, a town mayor in Quezon yesterday confirmed the NPA’s permit to campaign, saying politicians like him “have no choice” but to give in to the demand.

Mayor Joel Amando Diestro of Real town told reporters during the weekly broadcasters’ forum at Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City that local officials pay as much as P50,000 although the rebels would accept any amount.

Diestro said though that paying the permit to campaign fee is voluntary on the part of local officials.

“I have not paid my contribution. May utang pa ako (I still owe them),” he said. – With Perseus Echeminada

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BICOL CENTRAL LUZON CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT LEONARDO ESPINA COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES DIRECTOR GENERAL JESUS VERZOSA MASBATE AND SORSOGON MAYOR JOEL AMANDO DIESTRO OF REAL MINDORO OCCIDENTAL MINDORO ORIENTAL NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
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