Last of two parts
A military source told The Manila Times that some elected officials, including senators and congressmen, have been funding New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, but indirectly.
He claimed that mayors and vice m ayors – partymates of the lawmakers – were serving as “couriers” for the funds given to the communist fighters.
“They (mayors and vice mayors) serve as couriers. The senators and congressmen are aware of this kind of deal and are aware of where their money is going,” the source replied when asked if the national officials had an idea about the transactions.
“They (NPA) do not choose whether what political party is there. What is important to them is where they can get their funds swiftly,” the source said.
But the source said evidence was needed before appropriate charges could be filed in court against the “couriers.”
“Once a warrant has been released, that’s the time when we can arrest them for supporting terrorism,” he said.
Another source, who requested anonymity, confirmed there were local officials within the Davao Region believed to be funding the NPA.
About 20 to 30 politicians, mostly village chiefs and some mayors and vice mayors, were on the list of alleged NPA supporters, he said.
Most village officials were from the provinces of Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte while the mayors and vice mayors were from Compostela Valley, he said.
“[The names] just come out from the debriefing of those [NPA rebels] who have surrendered to us,” the source said.
“The list is regularly updated. We need to have case build-up once terrorist tag on NPA is approved by the court…We have to study how to approach this issue to be effective against them,” he added.
Both sources however said there was no paper trail to prove the transactions between the communists and the local government officials.
But there could be an opportunity to end the practice once the courts declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, as terrorist groups, as requested by the Duterte government.
Once the declaration is handed down, the military would be able to warn, trace and if possible, arrest the officials involved.
In December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a proclamation tagging the CPP-NPA as terrorists, using Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as a basis.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza explained that the next step following the proclamation will be for the Department of Justice (DoJ) to file before a court a “proscription” of the communist groups as terror organizations under RA 9372 or the Human Security Act, for judicial purposes.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd last year said a group of DoJ prosecutors was formed to prepare a petition before the court to officially declare the communists as terrorists.
Last year, a military source revealed that the military had drafted a list of “legal fronts” of the CPP-NPA, particularly party-list representatives, who will be arrested once the terrorist declaration is handed down by the court.
‘Permit to win, permit to campaign’
The first source also revealed that practices of “permit to win” and “permit to campaign” continue during elections.
A “permit to win” is required when a group of NPA members in a particular area are rooting for one candidate, whether for village chief, mayor, vice mayor, governor or even someone vying for a national post.
The source explained that a candidate is obliged to release funds for the communist rebels in a specific area, for him to capture the votes of the NPA who are “controlling” the place by “intimidating” the residents there.
Meanwhile, the “permit to campaign” is required if the rebels in the area do not support a candidate.
The candidate must release funds to the rebels if they do not want to be disrupted, but without any assurance of getting votes.
The source described the “permit to campaign” as a “toll fee,” since the candidate will only have to pay before being granted permission to enter the area.
“Of course, the local officials are also considering the NPA as their constituents so they are their responsibilities as well,” he said.
As the campaign period for the village and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections approaches, the military expects more extortion activities from the NPA “since elections is where the money really is,” the source said.
“This will be a good chance for the NPA to get extortion funds. They will be coming up with different strategies on how they will milk the money from running officials,” the source said.
Even policemen are obliged to give “revolutionary taxes” to the communist rebels to ensure the safety of their families, especially those in areas affected by the communist insurgency.
“They are being tightly watched as well aside from the barangay captains and mayors or any other local officials. But I think these policemen are just going with the flow especially if the areas where their families are, are areas greatly affected by the NPA,” the source explained.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the arrests of local officials supporting the rebels would have to be ordered by Malacañang.
“We do not know yet [if the local politicians will face arrests]. We’ll wait for the guidance from above,” Lorenzana told The Manila Times.