NPA rebels detain, free 6 candidates
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—Communist rebels separately and briefly held six politicians running for seats in the Sangguniang Bayan of this town. They also blocked the path of other politicians in La Paz town as the rebels enforced their brand of taxation on candidates in the coming elections.
A rebel leader said candidates had to pay permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees to enter rebel-influenced territories.
The incidents, which all happened on Monday, were confirmed by a New People’s Army (NPA) leader in an interview over a local radio station here.
Ka Ian of the NPA’s Front 19A said rebels held for about an hour six councilors of this town who were running for reelection—Bong Bandong, Lerriza de Leon, Aramis Ananoria, Reny Tulio, Ondoy Ellorimo and Genden Dayondon.
But he said the NPA target was actually incumbent councilors Rodelito Ranoco, Arth Ryan Palabrica and independent town council candidate and former vice mayor Joselito Bleza, who had not yet paid PTC fees despite repeated reminders by the rebels.
He did not say how much the rebels were demanding but added that the six councilors running for reelection were freed unharmed after the rebels seized weapons from their bodyguards.
Reacting to Ka Ian’s claim, Bleza said he had not received any message from any NPA courier but he assured the rebels that he was willing to talk to them.
Chief Insp. Sandro Santillan, San Francisco police chief, said the PTC fees demanded by the NPA was plain extortion.
In La Paz town, another group of rebels blocked local candidates, led by councilor Juanito Jumonong, to remind them not to engage in vote buying on May 9 elections.
Last week, Ka Ian said his group also blocked local candidates in Prosperidad town from campaigning in the remote village of Libertad as a form of warning and reminder to Mayor Albin Magdamit to deliver his commitments to the NPA.
He said Magdamit owed them P100,000 as PTC fees in the 2013 elections. Ka Ian said the mayor also promised three rifles to the rebels.
Magdamit could not be reached for comment.
As the elections draw near, the NPA has become more active in many Mindanao areas.
In Talakag town, Bukidnon province at least 100 families fled their homes in Barangay Lirongan after soldiers and NPA rebels clashed there on Wednesday.
Albert Bigcas, Talakag administrator, said three people, two of them civilians, were killed. The third casualty was a rebel.
In Sta. Cruz town, Davao del Sur, at least 200 families also fled their community in Barangay Astorga following a clash between rebels and soldiers on Monday that left two soldiers and a farmer dead. Chris Panganiban, Jigger Jerusalem and Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao
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.