Army to local execs: Pay NPA fee, face rap
CALAMBA CITY — The Philippine Army said it would file charges against local officials who would pay extortion money or campaign fees to communist rebels operating in their areas.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently came up with a “watch list” of 349 national and local officials, identified through intelligence reports, as a “source of financial aid” of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the list included village officials all the way up to governors and representatives.
In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region, the DILG list included 26 officials tagged as “NPA supporters.”
Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the military had prepared and submitted the list to the DILG.
“We have the list … The mandate given to us is to confirm and gather as much evidence as we can so we can file appropriate complaints in [the] DILG and probably [in the] courts,” Parayno said during the Regional Peace and Development Council summit here on Tuesday.
Manuel Gotis, DILG regional director, said his office had yet to receive a copy of the watch list.
“This is sensitive,” he said, especially with an election approaching.
Parayno said top Army commanders would be tasked to reach out to local officials concerned due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The DILG had warned local officials against paying campaign fees and taxes to rebels as this was tantamount to violating Republic Act No. 10168 (Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012).
Under the law, penalties include imprisonment and payment of between P500,000 and P1 million fine. Financing terrorist groups is also a predicate offense or a component to money laundering.
Undersecretary Allen Capuyan of the National Task Force to End Insurgency called the Communist Party of the Philippines the “single, biggest and most organized” extortionist.
“They’re like the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) … collecting 10 to 15 percent of government project (costs), which is quite a lot,” Capuyan said.
Maj. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, commander of the military’s Southern Luzon Command, said local officials have a “choice” not to give in to the rebels’ demands.
“[Rebels demand] a handful of rice, then [this would turn] to sacks of rice. Next thing they’d be asking for guns and money. At the first sign of extortion, avoid it,” he said.
Aside from discussing a “whole-of-nation” approach to counterinsurgency during the summit, Cavite Gov. Jesus Crispin Remulla, chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council, and Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas, chair of the Regional Development Council, sought additional policemen to be stationed in Calabarzon.
They also wanted to be clarified on how local officials should carry out localized peace talks, after peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines broke down.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.