ATROCITIES committed by the communist New People’s Army (NPA), such as extortion, is a “particular concern” when the barangay (village) and and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) elections take place in May, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday.
Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin Jr. also said that combined elements from the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) would be deployed to secure checkpoints.
“Joint AFP-PNP troops will be deployed to man checkpoints in different areas to provide assistance to civilians, deter and prevent any move by interest groups that might be inimical to good order and protect the general populace,” Datuin said in a statement.
Datuin said the military has not monitored any “specific threat” to the elections and its preparations and assured voters that “continuous security measures” were being conducted by government forces to thwart possible attacks from “usual peace spoilers, armed groups and terrorist elements that might take advantage of the situation.”
“Particular concern is the usual extortion and unlawful intervention of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) in elections in the form of permit to campaign fees, permit to win fees and harassment of candidates,” Datuin said.
The “permit to campaign and permit to win” policy of the NPA is carried out every election period — whether it be presidential, midterm or village and SK elections.
The policy involves a particular candidate being required to pay up if he or she wishes to enter an area controlled by the NPA.
The rebels will then assure the candidate of votes from their area.
Meanwhile, Datuin also reiterated to the public that the military would take the necessary actions to prevent threats from the rebels or any group attempting to disrupt the elections. DEMPSEY REYES