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Bets receive demand letters from NPA

/ 01:30 AM January 11, 2016

LUCENA CITY—Communist rebels have started sending letters to politicians reminding them to pay ‘’permit to campaign” (PTC) fees in guerilla-controlled areas.

At least three candidates for local posts confirmed having received demands for PTC fees from supposed New People’s Army (NPA) units in Quezon province.

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The three candidates, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity for their safety, said that while they were inclined to ignore the rebels’ demand, they would still seek a compromise or pay less than demanded from them.

“I received my invitation letter last month,” a reelectionist mayor in the Bondoc peninsula belonging to the province’s third district, told the Inquirer on Sunday.

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He said the letter reminding him to pay the PTC fee was delivered by a barangay official but specified no amount.

In past elections, the rebels reportedly demanded not only cash but rice, food stuff, medicine, communication equipment and even cell phone load.

Brig. Gen. Erick Parayno, commander of the Philippine Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade in Quezon, called on candidates not to give in to the rebels’ demands.

“The candidates should not be frightened. The rebels are now a weak force. If they give in, the extortion will not stop,” Parayno said.

Another mayoralty candidate in the Lamon Bay area in Quezon’s fourth district, who also received demands for payment through his mobile phone, said the offer of a security escort by the police and military was double-edged.

‘’There’s a semblance of protection but at the same time a candidate will lose votes in NPA-controlled areas,” the candidate said.

‘’Worse, the rebels could resort to liquidation to instill fear,” he said.

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The two other candidates interviewed by the Inquirer rejected the security escorts offered by the police and military.

‘’It would only complicate matters and create more trouble,” one candidate said.

The mayoral bet from Lamon Bay said he received word from some Quezon mayors that they had also received similar notices from the rebels.

He said most of the candidates, like himself, were inclined to negotiate with the rebels.

Parayno said there were 27 armed rebels operating in the central Quezon, Lamon Bay and Bondoc peninsula areas, mostly on the outskirts of Gumaca, Lopez, Macalelon and Buenavista towns.   Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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TAGS: Elections 2016, New People’s Army, news, Permit to Campaign, Regions
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