Skip to comments.Communist Extortion in the Philippines
Posted on 12/07/2003 8:21:31 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
WHO ARE the extortionists? It's the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), said Carapali Lualhati, national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army and its armed wing, Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB).
Lualhati, also known as Stephen Paduano, said the people of Negros are not "illiterate" to know who really are the extortionists.
He said the underground movement wherein he was a member some 10 years past, is responsible for extorting revolutionary taxes in the uplands especially from politicians come election time.
The NPAs are also responsible for the burning of Ceres buses for the owner's failure or refusal to submit to their demands, added Lualhati.
The RPA-ABB national commander also belied the accusations of priest-turned-rebel Frank Fernandez, NPA island commander, that the RPAs are using the CPP-NPA official logo in extortion letters to discredit their (NPA) organization.
"It only shows that Ka Frank admits that they extort money to generate funds through extortion letters targeting some businessmen, politicians and even small businessmen," Lualhati countered.
Tagging Fernandez's statements as "recycled and distorted issues," Lualhati added that the NPAs are at present mounting psychological preparations or psywar for the forthcoming 2004 presidential elections.
It is during the height of the campaign period that the NPAs extort money from politicians who would frequent the province's hinterlands, some of which are the NPA's stronghold areas.
Lualhati disclosed that their group as early as now, already received a number of complaints from municipal mayors and councilors in some areas in the province claiming that the NPAs ask for so-called "access fees" amounting from P100,000 to P500,000 for them to campaign in their (NPA) areas of jurisdiction.
Lualhati further revealed that the communist insurgents have extorted some P3 million from a bus company in the province this year although he did not elaborate.
If the bus owner refuses to pay revolutionary taxes to them, he added, the company's buses are torched.
"I am calling on all businessmen, capitalist, politicians not to pay and not to be intimidated by these bandits, the CPP-NPA in particular under the command of Jose Maria Sison and Ka Frank Fernandez," Lualhati said.
He also clarified that the RPA-ABB is a non-partisan and revolutionary organization, which will not endorse or campaign for any candidate in next year's polls.
"To all politicians, you are free to campaign in areas where RPAs (are existing). We do not have any controlled areas but we have several influence areas. All candidates are free to campaign," he said.
He added that their organization would actively participate in the election by educating the people to vote for candidates who are capable to run for government office.
Lualhati urged politicians to report any extortion and threats they receive for the RPA to take action in coordination with the PNP and the Philippine Army.
Military: NPA recruiting women for extortion - November 26, 2003 2:21 AM
ZAMBOANGA CITY - The communist New Peoples Army (NPA) has begun recruiting female members to help extort money for its 36th anniversary celebration next month, the military has claimed.
Intelligence reports said the recruitment is being done in remote areas of the Zamboanga Peninsula, formerly known as the Western Mindanao region.
The Zamboanga Peninsula covers the provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and the cities of Zamboanga, Pagadian, Dipolog, Dapitan and Isabela.
According to the 4th Civil Relations Group chief, Lt. Col. Fredesvindo Covarrubias, the targets of recruitment were young women .
In exchange, they were promised a decent and good life, Covarrubias told reporters. Those involved in the recruitment were hard-core members of the NPA, he added.
He said the military is monitoring the movement of the NPA guerrillas to avert any planned atrocities.
The United States government has included the NPA on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Covarrubias appealed to the parents of teenagers to closely monitor the activities of their children who might be recruited by the NPA.
Meanwhile, NPA spokesman Gregorio Rosal, alias Ka Roger, laughed off reports that he is ill and needs medication. Speaking over the radio, Rosal accused the military in Southern Luzon of spreading the news about his alleged failing health.
He also laughed off the reported offer by the military to bring him to the hospital for medication.
NPA taxing teachers in Negros, military says - GILBERT BAYORAN - November 29, 2003 12:30 AM
BACOLOD CITY - Not even the low-paid teachers in the hinterland areas of central Negros were spared by the extortion activities of the New Peoples Army (NPA), the military claimed Friday.
1Lt. Clarence Garrido, 11th Infantry Battalion Civil Military Operation officer, said the rebels impose quarterly, or even monthly monetary and logistic obligations on teachers.
Garrido said the teachers have not made any attempt to report the extortion for fear of being harmed or killed by the rebel group.
In Isabela, Negros Occidental, he also noted a series of robberies reportedly perpetrated by the communist-led NPA, whose victims are businessmen who refused to pay revolutionary taxes.
In northern Negros, the rebels torched two tractors of the Montinola family for failure to comply with their demands, police records showed.
It clearly shows that they [NPA rebels] are already suffering from financial constraints, and they want to make it appear that some lawless elements did it [tractor burning] to exonerate their group, Garrido said.
On the other hand, the National Democratic Front-Negros has condemned what it calls the dirty psywar tactics of the military and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA), in accusing the communist rebel movement in engaging in extortion.
Priest-turned-rebel Frank Fernandez, in a statement, charged the military of using the NDF logo and masthead in its extortion activities.
Fernandez claimed that in the alleged extortion activities of the military and RPA, the victims were ordered to contact a certain Ka Rommel through a cell-phone number, and threatened to punish the victims if they fail to comply with the extortionists demands.
The rebel priest called for vigilance from the masses, sugar planters and businessmen to what he claimed to be the extortion activities of the military.
Fernandez, however, admitted that businessmen who operate within the guerrilla fronts have the obligation to pay taxes to the communist movement.
Ka Roger justifies tax collection - IRE JO V.C. LAURENTE - December 5, 2003 1:51 AM
CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro - The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) lambasted on Thursday a bill proposed by a party-list representative wanting to declare the tax-collection activities of the communists illegal.
In an e-mailed statement, CPP spokesman Gregorio Ka Roger Rosal also criticized Akbayan Party-list Reps. Etta Rosales and Mario Aguja in filing House Bill 6581, which seeks to criminalize New Peoples Army (NPA) tax collection activities during elections.
Rosal said the party-list lawmakers need a reality check, being out-and-out opportunists and now baring their reactionary skeletons.
It smacks of opportunism and reaction, as well as self-illusion and lack of common sense Rosal said.
The communist leader said that Rosales and her group pretend not to realize that the CPP-NPA-NDF [National Democratic Front] and their revolutionary mass base have their own revolutionary government, and that the NPA collects revolutionary taxes in accordance to revolutionary governmental policies and laws on taxation.
Rosales and company cannot just legalize this fact out of existence. Most politicos, including traditional politicos, have enough common sense to recognize and comply with this, he said.
He also added that the government and closet reactionaries like Rosales have all the freedom within the confines of their own reactionary state to declare revolutionary-tax collection as illegal anytime they want to, but when they want to enter the territory of the CPP-NPA-NDF and its revolutionary government, they are obliged to follow revolutionary laws, including the payment of the necessary fees and taxes.
He, however, said that the revolutionary movement does not give entry permits to die-hard reactionaries, who are rabidly antagonistic and have incurred blood debts to the revolutionary movement and the people.
He warned that the policy of the CPP-NPA-NDF is to apply sanctions and punishments on them, instead of collecting taxes from them.
The proceeds from the collection of revolutionary fees and taxes are used to fund socioeconomic, health, educational and cultural projects and activities of the people in the revolutionary mass bases, as well as to finance the operations of the revolutionary movement, Rosal added.
The military had earlier warned politicians who would be paying communist guerrillas for their permit to campaign. The military said that this is tantamount to treason, and anybody who is proven to have given money to the rebels would be charged.
Election related extortion now a crime - December 8, 2003 12:08 PM
The chairman of the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights moved on Tuesday to criminalize election-related extortions acts, especially those being carried out by armed groups, including the communist New Peoples Army (NPA).
Party-list Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan filed House Bill 658 seeking to amend the Omnibus Election Code to stop armed groups from extorting huge sums from politicians during election campaigns.
This undemocratic and reprehensible practice completely goes against the principle and concept off free elections that underline our democratic system of government, as well as that of all other countries that profess to be democratic, Rosales said.
She said armed groups that include the NPA, extort money or other valuables from candidates for public office and from political parties in exchange for so-called permits to campaign in their territories.
Rosales said this violates the provisions of our Constitution on political freedom and of electoral reforms that the National Democratic Front, the Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA profess to adhere to among others in their peace negotiations with the government.
She said acts of extortion by armed groups curtail the freedom of citizens and their political parties and organizations to campaign anywhere in the country for their candidates and their political and electoral platforms, as well as the right of voters to be freely informed about candidates and political parties contending for public office.
She said her proposal was filed after several party-list organizations complained about harassment and extortion attempts from the NPA.
In the proposal Rosales said that while there are mechanisms in place to ensure that the police and military are accountable for cases of harassment, the same cannot be said of rebel groups, who operate outside the rule of law.
BAGUIO --- Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal belittled Wednesday the order of President Arroyo for military and police to stop rebels from imposing permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees from politicians.
"In reality, Arroyo and her military and police have no effective way of halting the collection of election campaign fees in widespread areas effectively controlled by the NPA (New People's Army)," said Rosal.
For decades now, the CPP, through its armed-wing NPA, has been collecting money from politicians who wish to conduct campaign sorties in NPA-identified territories.
Many politicians, including President Arroyo's allies, are paying for safe conduct passes to campaign in certain areas of the country ahead of elections in May, Rosal claimed.
The military this week said the CPP-NPA is expected to amass more than P2-billion from PTC fees collection.
Rosal added that candidates pay campaign fees as "a sign of recognition of the political authority of the people's democratic government in revolutionary areas."
He also revealed that most of Arroyo's partymates and political allies, who are running for local and national positions, have already submitted applications for PTCs.
Candidates are allowed to enter and campaign in NPA-identified stronghold areas only if they are able to present PTCs issued by revolutionary authorities.
"Arroyo cannot deny by decree the existence of the political authority of the people's revolutionary forces," Rosal said. "It exists by virtue of the people's organized revolutionary armed strength and mass movement."
Rosal claimed PTCs are required to ensure the security of revolutionary areas and the orderly conduct of political campaigns in those areas.
He also said politicians entering and campaigning in revolutionary areas are prohibited from bringing weapons and armed groups.
Rosal also said collections from PTC fees are used to fund the operations of the people's democratic government as well as important socio-economic activities of the masses under the jurisdiction of the revolutionary government, including cooperatives and projects to enhance agricultural production, as well as medical, education and literacy campaigns.
The government says the "permit to campaign" fees charged NPA guerrillas are simply extortion. It has vowed to crack down on the practice.
Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita said last week the NPA was stepping up its extortion "to make up for lost contributions coming from abroad" after the United States declared the group a "foreign terrorist organization."
The US, European Union, Australia and Canada have also pledged to freeze the NPA's assets, he said.
Ermita said the NPA had ordered candidates contesting for seats in Congress to pay them half a million pesos if they campaigned in their areas of influence. Gubernatorial bets have been asked to pay 300,000 pesos and mayoral candidates 50,000 pesos.
In the past, candidates without rebel passes have been ambushed.
CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac - A ranking military official here virtually admitted that authorities are practically incapable to stop the communist New Peoples Army (NPA)s collection of revolutionary taxes from businessmen, and the imposition of permit-to-campaign fees on candidates.
This is a sophisticated process, said Lt. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, commanding officer of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), when asked by reporters here how he plans to implement in Central and Northern Luzon President Arroyos order for soldiers to end the taxation and other forms of extortion by the NPA.
He said that as it takes two to tango, the only way to apprehend rebels involved in the implementation of the revolutionary taxation by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), is for the candidates in the 2004 elections and businessmen to cooperate with the police and military authorities.
Earlier reports have it that the communist movement is expected to raise more than a billion pesos out of money extorted from candidates who would secure permits to campaign in rebel strongholds.
On December 4 CPP spokesman Gregorio Ka Roger Rosal said that reactionary politicos and political parties, including their party-list allies, who desire to enter and campaign in CPP-NPA-NDF-governed areas, have to secure official permits and pay the necessary fees to do so.
The rebel spokesman insisted that anybody who wants to enter the territories of the CPP-NPA-NDF and its revolutionary government are obliged to follow revolutionary laws, including the payment of the necessary fees and taxes.
Dominguez, however, described such policy of the rebels as a manifestation of terrorism, although he said that the imposition of taxes and campaign fees on candidates, were nothing new, nothing special, but plain extortion.
He said that the only way to prevent the guerrillas from imposing fees on candidates is for politicians to have it reported to authorities because extortion is a criminal offense.
For arrests to be made, the rebels should be caught red-handed.
But Dominguez lamented that the advent of technology has put the police and military in a disadvantageous position in fighting the rebels fundraising activities.
He said the intelligence community has discovered that most payments for revolutionary taxes and permit-to-campaign fees are now being made through automated teller machines.
He added that the communists are not only using the Internet to further their propaganda activities, as the CPP-NPA-NDF now also undertakes financial transaction over cyberspace in credit- card payments and bank-to-bank money transfers.
He stressed that the military and the police can guarantee the safety of candidates who would report such rebel activities to authorities.
TIS the season to be jolly, but for the communist rebels it is not necessarily because of Christmas. It's more because the election season is near at hand, which is the season that usually brings a financial windfall to the New People's Army, courtesy of the candidates. In next year's national elections, the NPA could collect as much as 2.25 billion pesos from the issuance of "permits to campaign" in rebel-controlled areas to candidates for various positions.
That figure is not a rebel boast, but an estimate made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Colonel Eduardo del Rosario, chief of the Philippine Army's Civil Affairs Group, said the going rate for gubernatorial candidates is 500,000 pesos; for congressional candidates, 300,000 pesos to 500,000 pesos; and for mayoral candidates, 50,000 pesos to 300,000 pesos. Based on the military's "honest estimate" that 10 percent of some 450,000 candidates contesting various positions would come across with 50,000 pesos on the average, Del Rosario said, the NPA could generate a total of 2.25 billion pesos during the campaign period.
It's quite interesting that the AFP puts at 10 percent the number of candidates who would be willing to pay the campaign fees demanded by the NPA. Is it now admitting that the guerrillas control at least 10 percent of the national territory? Or is it exaggerating the threat to get a higher budget?
Apparently the rebels are not about to dispute what to them are very encouraging statistics. In fact, NPA spokesman Gregorio Rosal has seized the AFP announcement as an opportunity to advertise the movement and the services it has to offer. Rosal said the payment of such fees has long been "an election fact of life." "It's the candidate's way of acknowledging the political authority of the revolutionary forces in Red-contolled areas," he explained.
Negotiations between the rebels and some candidates have been going on for months now, Rosal also revealed. And with the 15-day Christmas truce in place, more candidates are expected to inquire about how to secure a permit to campaign. "They will take advantage of the lull in fighting to freely transact business with us," he predicted.
Rosal also said the fees the rebels charge are "open to negotiation." They accept payment in cash or kind, such as communication equipment-a fact that has been confirmed by the Army spokesman. Del Rosario said the guerrillas are willing to accept eight M-16 rifles if a candidate cannot afford to pay 500,000 pesos in cash or four such rifles instead of 300,000 pesos.
Apparently such deals have been going on for a long time, as Rosal has said. But what has the government done to stop them? No candidate, winning or losing, has ever been arrested and charged for helping finance the insurgency, which is what paying the fees or giving arms to the rebels amounts to.
Also 2 billion pesos can go a long way in funding the operations of about 10,000 guerrillas. So what is the government doing to check the flow of such a huge sum to the NPA?
President Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the AFP and the PNP to put together an operational plan to stop the collection of such fees. And she has asked them to work closely with the candidates. In Congress, a bill authored principally by Akbayan Reps. Loretta Ann Rosales and Mario Aguja seeks to criminalize the collection of such campaign fees as well as so-called "revolutionary taxes."
But again the question is: How does one implement the plan or enforce the law? If the government can actually serve warrants of arrest, the rebellion would have been crushed a long time ago.
Rosal has mockingly suggested that the government try to stop "the long line of candidates" who are willing to pay for the privilege of campaigning in the areas controlled by rebels. He did not mean to, of course, but he actually pointed to a more practical way of stopping the rebel exaction. And that is by cracking down hard on candidates who agree to pay or deliver the arms or logistics demanded by the guerrillas.
The candidates are not hostages. They are a party to an illegal transaction. They provide material aid to enemies of the state and abet the rebellion. They should not be treated with sympathy and understanding like victims.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.
I don't get offended if you want to be removed.
MANILA -- The military will use text messaging to help curb extortion by communist insurgents of candidates in the May national elections, a spokesman said Monday.
Military spokesman Lt. Colonel Daniel Lucero said the campaign would be similar to one used against the Abu Sayyaf, which was active in the southern Philippines but has since been weakened by the capture of key leaders.
With the help of text messaging or SMS, candidates and the public at large will be able to report cases of extortion by the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Lucero said.
"We've done this before particularly in Abu Sayyaf areas. We've established hotlines where people can text," said Lucero in an interview with ABS-CBN television.
Text messages would allow callers to keep their identity secret while reporting extortion attempts, he said.
Texting is hugely popular in the country. News, gossip, jokes and greetings are exchanged among more than 18 million mobile phone owners.
NPA leaders have said they were collecting huge sums of money from candidates in the May national elections in exchange for "permits to campaign" in guerrilla-influenced areas.
Lucero said that in the last elections in 2001, the communists charged about a a million pesos for each senatorial candidate with smaller sums for gubernatorial and mayoral candidates. AFP
KORONADAL CITY -- Communist guerillas are asking from P50,000 to P500,000 from politicians as permit to campaign fees, a practice described by President Arroyo as "extortion" and which she vowed to stop this election period.
National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesman Jorge Madlos, alias Ka Oris, said no candidate wanting to campaign in strongholds of communist guerillas would be spared from paying campaign fees. The NDF is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Madlos said the rate of campaign fees is P500,000 for governor; between P300,000 to P500,000 for those seeking congressional posts, and between P50,000 to P500,000 for those running for mayor.
For a whole party slate, the campaign fee rate is P1.5 million or above, he added.
"Extortion yun eh. Kontra sa batas yun eh. So kailangan, ipairal ang batas (That's extortion. That's illegal. So, we need to impose the law)," Arroyo said, in reaction to the statement of the communist group that all candidates for public office in the 2004 elections must pay the campaign fee.
She said her government would stop this practice of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.
Madlos said they earned P40 million from campaign fees in the 2001 elections and added he would welcome a "media-led audit team" to check on how the money was used.
Arroyo, asked on how she intended to go about preventing the NPA from harassing candidates, especially those running for local posts, replied, "law enforcement."
But she said government would pursue peace talks with the communist group. She also said Norway is helping in the exploratory talks, not only by hosting the venue, but also by helping mediate the negotiations.
Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita said military and police are focused on stopping the NPA's reported extort activities in the Southern Tagalog region, Eastern Samar province and in Mindanao.
South Cotabato Police Director Senior Supt. Romeo Rufino urged candidates not to pay any campaign fee.
In Eastern Samar, said Ermita, a candidate for provincial governor, a former congressman, is complaining against the campaign fee. He declined to name the candidate.
He said the NPA's tax collection activities heightened after the US and the European Union (EU) branded the communist group a terrorist organization and ordered its assets frozen.
Police agreed that the campaign fee is plain extortion.
The communist group is not supporting any candidate vying for a national post but would back "progressive candidates" running for provincial, city or municipal posts, said NDF Peace Panel Chairman Luis Jalandoni.
"In the national level, we see that this elections would not anymore give solutions to the fundamental problems of the people," Jalandoni said in a local radio interview.
Jalandoni said the NDF considers the political workout in the national level as "an exercise in futility," which also does not offer a solution to pressing problems of the country.
But in the local level, he added, candidates with "progressive platforms" would earn "limited gains from the NDF-CPP-NPA and the areas it influenced."
Jalandoni claimed that communist forces are growing stronger, "mustering support in more than 8,000 villages or maintaining influences in about 800 municipalities and 90 percent of the provinces in the country." (Sun.Star General Santos/With SCT)
THE Task Force Davao (TFD) yesterday said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will do everything to stop the New Peoples Army (NPA) from collecting permit to campaign (PTC) fees among candidates in the incoming 2004. Col. Gaudencio Pangilinan, TFD commander, said they will increase their presence and mobility in the citys hinterlands to prevent the NPA from harassing and soliciting money from the politicians.
The TFD will make its presence felt in the rural areas to prevent these extortion activities of the rebels, Pangilinan said.
In the weekly forum of Ato ni Bay of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at After-Dark Resto-bar, Pangilinan said candidates should coordinate with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) so that the TFD can provide them with security escorts during their campaign rounds.
We are now starting to coordinate with the staffmembers of the candidates so that we can given them covert security escorts, Pangilinan said.
Senior Supt. Conrado Laza, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director, said the DCPO will also do its share in preventing the rebels from collecting money from the candidates.
The police will also do their share to prevent these extortion being done by the rebels, Laza said.
NPA rebels in Mindanao back Poe, insist on campaign fees - By Lizanilla Amarga - December 30, 2003
LIANGA, Surigao del Sur--Communists and their supporters in Mindanao said they are inclined to support action star Fernando Poe Jr. for president in next year's elections.
This came about as they debunked reports they have required Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to pay P300,000 for his permit to campaign (PTC), saying the amount is too small for the mayor.
In a press conference held here amid the 35th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP, National Democratic Front (NDF) Mindanao spokesman Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos told media practitioners they prefer Poe than President Arroyo and other presidentiables.
"Kung karon ang election ang arang-arang si FPJ kaysa ni Gloria (if the elections are to be held today it is better to vote for Poe than Arroyo)," he said.
Madlos said FPJ hasn't committed a crime to the masses yet or to the movement unlike the President whom he said should have been "kicked out".
Nevertheless, Madlos said Poe, who is commonly called as "FPJ", and all presidential candidates and politicians will have to pay the required campaign fee should they want to campaign in their areas.
He said the campaign fee is an "expression of the governmental function of the revolutionary government" and is considered as another form of revolutionary tax.
"No one is exempted from paying the PTC even if they are against or in support of our revolutionary movement...they can pay in the form of firearms or in cash," he said.
He added that politicians not paying the required PTC would be barred from campaigning in their areas.
Madlos also denied requiring Duterte to pay the amount of P300,000 for his PTC. The amount "is too small for Duterte," he said in Visayan.
Madlos said should Duterte insist on not paying the PTC, it would be up to their group in Southern Mindanao to deal with the mayor.
"Ipatuman strictly ang PTC sa tibook Mindanao (The PTC will be strictly implemented in Mindanao)," he said.
When asked on how much was really asked from the Davao mayor, Madlos replied that he cannot as yet ascertain the exact amount.
He however, disclosed there is a "general ceiling" for PTCs that provides the amount required as payment for mayors who want to campaign in their areas.
Madlos said the PTC for a mayor ranges from P50,000 to P500,000 while for party slates, such as governors and their Provincial Board members, the fee ranges from P1.5 million up.
"Pero usahay maubos kung maghinangyoay depende sa negotiation ug capacity sa individual candidate," he said. (But this can still go down depending on the negotiation and the capacity of the individual candidate to pay.)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The front pages last Christmas featured unseemly photos of politicians hobnobbing with some of the worlds last remaining communists as they celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the town of Liangga, Surigao del Sur.
Eraps former environment and natural resources secretary was there. The others consisted of the provinces vice governor, who was quoted as representing his governor and his congressman, Lianggas vice mayor, and lesser politicians.
The hosts in that event are the same people who require what they call a permit-to-campaign (PTC) before any candidate can enter areas they claim to control. The PTC is granted upon payment of an amount specified by or negotiated with area commanders. Those who pay receive a guarantee of safety.
This practice is being reported as standard fare in those areas. If so, it poses disturbing questions about the integrity of the republic and of our electoral system.
First, it means that the government has no control over certain parts of the country, ceding them to lawless elements and compromising the sovereignty of the Republic.
Second, the legitimacy of certain officials is questionable. Their election to office may have been due to the illegal support of these armed groups in exchange for which they may be abetting their nefarious activities, thereby imperiling instead of securing their jurisdiction. It violates their oath of office.
And third, it suggests that some candidates approve of extortion and gunpoint persuasion in electoral contests. Anyone who plays along with extortion, or who concedes to threats, has no place in government. No one should benefit from an advantage conferred by lawlessness.
This practice is plain and simple extortion a protection racket. It corrupts and distorts elections. It favors certain candidates even as it prevents others to campaign.
To pay for a PTC is collusion or bribery. To impose it is extortion. Those who refuse to pay risk danger to their person. They cannot campaign freely, or at all. So it makes a mockery of our election laws and spits in the face of the right to vie for public office.
LIANGA, Surigao del Sur -- For fees ranging from P50,000 to P1.5 million, the New Peoples Army will guarantee the safety of politicians campaigning in the rebel groups controlled territories.
George Madlos aka Ka Oris, National Democratic Front Mindanao spokesperson, said no political candidates would be exempted from paying the fees.
There are no poor candidates in this election. If you run (for an elective position), you are not poor, Madlos said.
He said candidates for governor in the provinces would have to fork out P1.5 million so they can campaign freely in NPA controlled territories without fear from harassment.
For those running for Congress, Madlos said candidates will have to pay P300,000. Those running for town mayors will pay P50,000, depending on the income of the municipality, he said.
Madlos said mayoralty candidates for Mindanaos 27 cities will have to pay the fees, too, and secure permit to campaign (PTC) coupons.
The NPA, which is engaged in Asias longest insurgency, has 35 guerilla fronts operating in 20 provinces and 27 cities in Mindanao.
There is no denying that we exist in the mountains. Local candidates are familiar with the revolutionary dynamics in their localities, Madlos said.
He said voters in NPA-controlled territories comprise 20 percent of Mindanaos 18.1 million inhabitants.
It is enough to swing the victory of politicians, Madlos said.
Candidates for national elective positions are advised to negotiate directly with the NDF or NPA central committees, Madlos said.
He said candidates who will refuse to pay up will not be allowed to campaign in NPA sanctuaries.
Candidates must be ready to present their PTC cards or certificate upon entering revolutionary territories to campaign, Madlos said.
He said candidates who refuse to comply and still enter their territories will be considered as engaging in provocative acts. Security escorts of these candidates, Madlos said, will be subjected to NPA military action.
Journalists and a group of government officials were given a glimpse of the NPAs influence in the hinterlands when they went to a hinterland village, 15 kilometers north of Lianga town last Tuesday.
There, amid a backdrop of nipa huts and smiling faces of villagers, the journalists and government officials were treated to a display of NPA firepower.
Some 60 NPA guerilla fighters armed with M16 and M14 rifles drilled in front of the visitors. The rebels, some of them women, also performed songs and dances.
One of the visiting government officials, Rep. Prospero Pichay, chair of the Congress national defense committee, asked Madlos of the possibility of lowering the fees.
Pichay said the fees are exorbitant for candidates who do not have enough financial resources.
Another government official who was in the meeting, Rep. Oscar Moreno of Misamis Oriental, said he will not pay the NPA. Moreno is running for governor in Misamis Oriental where several towns are influenced by the NPA.
I do not recognize the NPA, Moreno said.
Col. Daniel Lucero, Armed Forces spokesperson, said the military has set up telephone hotlines where candidates can call or send text messages to report any NPA extortion.
Lucero said criminal cases will be filed against politicians who will pay the communist rebels. He did not specify what criminal cases would be filed.
We have many deep penetration agents in the NPA ranks. We will know who will be paying, Lucero told MindaNews by phone.
The NPA has set up an elaborate system of payment scheme to prevent unscrupulous persons and military agents from swindling the candidates.
Madlos advised candidates who want to comply to look for reliable friends who have direct contacts with the NDF or NPA.
He said candidates can also give firearms and ammunition in lieu of cash.
We consider the fees as taxes. Like any government, those who transact business in our territories must pay the taxes, Madlos said.
Pay NPAs PTC and face consequences, PNP warns Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews / 8 January 2004
DAVAO CITY -- Authorities issued frantic warnings this afternoon against any political candidates who intends to pay the New Peoples Army in exchange for free access in rebel controlled territories.
You can be charged for aiding the rebels, warned Chief Supt. Isidro Lapeña, city police director.
But this dire warning can just be a balloon of hot air.
Director Lerio Joqueño of the Commission on Elections said no politicians were ever convicted for giving money to the rebels.
Joqueño cited the lack of witnesses as one of the reasons why there are no convictions.
In other instances, witnesses lose interest. This is the biggest drawback. We can not just get any conviction, she said.
The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines penalized persons who gives aid or comfort to the enemies of the state with imprisonment up to 17 years and a fine of P20,000.
The communist New Peoples Army has come out with payment rates for politicians who wish to campaign in their territories.
All candidates must pay permit to campaign (PTC) fees ranging from P1.5 million to P50,000.
George Madlos, National Democratic Front Mindanao spokesperson, urged candidates to secure their permits otherwise they could be subjected to harassment by the communist rebels.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has set up communication centers nationwide where candidates can report any extortion threat by the rebels.
Col. Rodolfo Obaniano, chief of the Army 701st Brigade, said they can provide candidates with military escorts if they wish to enter rebel controlled areas.
This would have to be approved by the Comelec of course. But we assure that everyone can avail of the Army escorts, Obaniano told reporters.
Lapena said the PNP and Army will set up election communication centers to monitor the incoming May elections.
A congressman was held up and two of his aides wounded by suspected communist guerrillas demanding he pay to campaign in rebel-claimed territories, officials said Saturday.
Congressman Jose Solis said in a radio interview, that he, a driver and a bodyguard were heading to a civic function in Gubat town, Sorsogon province, Friday when their vehicle was stopped by seven armed men.
Solis said that he identified himself as a congressman whereupon one of the men told him "you are not observing the laws of the revolutionaries. You have no permit to campaign."
Communist insurgents have demanded that candidates in the May 10 national elections pay them to get a "permit to campaign" in areas where the guerrillas are active.
Solis said he tried to reason with the armed men but when they noticed that his driver had a gun hidden in his vest, they shot the driver in the wrist and the bodyguard in the thigh.
The armed men then took the three firearms and two cellular phones of Solis's group and left. The congressman was not harmed.
Solis, who is running for re-election in May, said he suspects political rivals were behind the shooting.
Minutes after it happened, cellular phone text messages began circulating that the whole thing was a hoax intended to win public sympathy for the congressman.
"Was it a drama to shoot... my bodyguard and driver just to get the voters' sympathy?" he asked.
Regional police head, Chief Superintendent Jaime Lacsi Lasar said that the incident could have been communist extortion but were still investigating.
Aspirants warned: Pay PTC fees, or else... - By Anthony S. Allada, Staff Writer
THE New Peoples Army has warned politicians who will not pay the permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees that they will be vulnerable to attacks. In a statement, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPAs Merardo Arce Command, also said: Non-complying candidates cannot enter and campaign in areas of operation of the NPA.
But Sanchez said the rebels do not have a fast rule on PTC because candidate can bargain for the reduction of the fees.
Sanchez statement came after members of the NPA reportedly attacked a mayor in Davao del Sur Friday.
Initial reports from the military said that a team of rebels was responsible for the attack on Magsaysay Mayor Arthur Davin. The reports added that Davin, who survived the attack, earned the ire of the rebels after he failed to pay the PTC fees.
Davin was riding a white Tamaraw FX after attending a fiesta celebration when the vehicle stepped into a landmine that exploded, hitting the vehicles rear portion.
His policeman-bodyguard, SPO2 Eduardo Adlawan was, slightly injured.
Police identified two rebels, Maximo Sambong Jr. and a certain Junjun, as the ones who planted the bomb.
Sanchez said candidates should understand that without the NPA sanction, they will reportedly face difficulties in their campaign.
But Sanchez said that even with the PTC being a matter of revolutionary policy, electoral parties and candidates can also enter into negotiations with the rebels.
All considerations shall be discussed and dealt with on a case-to-case basis during these negotiations, he said.
This is in relation with those politicians who are negotiating for the lowering of PTC rates.
Posted: 11:51 PM (Manila Time) | Jan. 17, 2004
By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Inquirer News Service
LUCENA CITY, Quezon -- Communist Party of the Philippines spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal Saturday said the payment of the permit-to-campaign fees by candidates who wanted to campaign in so-called communist-controlled areas is now in full swing nationwide.
Rosal said most candidates "who know the business of real politics voluntarily and intently seek lines of communication with the CPP-NPA [New People's Army] leadership or their representatives."
"Even if we don't tell them, politicians who know look for us and approach us because they fully know the rule and who decides in the guerrilla zones," Rosal said in a statement released by the Party Information Bureau.
The government has declared that the police and the military will continue to thwart the imposition of the PTC, which it said is a clear form of extortion.
Rosal claimed that candidates and political parties from the national to the local levels have been holding meetings with rebel leaders to explain how their respective programs of government are supposed to be pro-people and how they can help in the CPP-NPA's socio-economic welfare programs for the people.
The candidates, he said, also coordinate with the NPA for their security requirements.
"This speaks of the wide sway and recognition of the political authority of the people's democratic government," Rosal said.
He said territories under the strong influence of the revolutionary movement currently cover at least 10 million people.
Rosal said that in consolidated revolutionary areas, the revolutionary movement "wields greater actual authority" than the government while both operate side-by-side in expansion areas.
He also rebuked government peace negotiators for stating that the PTC is not helping the peace talks.
"We should get over the socio-economic and political and electoral reforms agenda of the peace talks and look at the resultant changes in favor of the people's welfare and meaningful political resolutions first before talking about the PTC," said Rosal.
"Now that formal peace negotiations are to be resumed shortly, the government panel should refrain from issuing such prejudicial statements that do not help at all create a favorable atmosphere for the talks," Rosal added.
The government peace panel said the issue of PTC collection being imposed by the NPA would be brought to the negotiating table since the government has declared that the practice is unacceptable.
Major Jose Broso, spokesman of the military's Southern Luzon Unified Command based here in Camp Nakar, scoffed at the NPA claim that no politician running for office would be "exempt" from the payment of the permit-to-campaign fee.
"It's pure extortion by a worldwide known terrorist group," he said.
BAGUIO -- Aspirants for elective posts in the May elections were warned Sunday not to bring with them guns and armed goons when they conduct campaign sorties inside zones controlled by New People's Army (NPA) guerillas.
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal said all election candidates campaigning in guerrilla zones would be asked to comply with the rules and regulations of the underground movement. This is to ensure they would not create trouble inside NPA turfs. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
Rosal, on the other hand, explained the permit-to-campaign (PTC) fee was being imposed nationwide and on all politicians, and even President Arroyo is mandated to pay the toll.
Just like in previous elections, politicians would be left with no option but to pay campaign fees, Rosal claimed, adding at least 10 million voters are located in guerilla zones.
Rosal brushed aside government's statement that the campaign fees are against the law and that candidates should ignore the rebels' demand.
He also belittled the threat by the military and police that they will use force to prevent the CPP-NPA from implementing the permit to campaign policy.
Rosal said candidates and political parties from the national to the local levels have been holding meetings with revolutionary authorities to explain how their respective programs of government are supposed to be pro-people. They are also claiming they can help in the CPP-NPA and revolutionary mass organization's own socio-economic welfare programs for the people as well as coordinate their campaign activities and meet security requirements.
He added that politicians are specifically asked to support revolutionary programs for the benefit of the people, including various economic, medical, educational, literacy and cultural programs.
Rosal explained a significant part of proceeds from campaign fees are used to fund such programs.
"These revolutionary socio-economic programs actually make up for the historical neglect by the government and provide immediate relief to the deprived, impoverished and long-suffering people, especially in the countryside."
By GILBERT BAYORAN
BACOLOD CITY - The National Police in Region 6 Saturday warned candidates in the May 10 elections against paying permit to campaign fees to the New Peoples Army, saying doing so is tantamount to treason.
Regional police director George Aliño said they are now monitoring candidates who pay campaign fees to the NPA.
Paying campaign fees to the NPA is like treason because you are providing aid and comfort to the enemy [of the state], Aliño stressed. On the part of the NPA, this is definitely extortion.
Aliño said the police would file the appropriate charges against the paying candidates and the rebels who are apprehended.
The military has already monitored reports that the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA has started to negotiate with some candidates in central Negros.
CPP spokesman Gregorio Rosal has issued a stern warning against candidates who may campaign in so-called guerrilla zones without paying the campaign fees.
Two mayors in southern Negros, whose identities were withheld, have reportedly received extortion letters from CPP-NPA breakaway faction leader Carapali Lualhati.
Aliño, however, said they have not monitored any report of candidates harboring private armed groups in Region 6.
It is only the NPA that is engaged in atrocities, he said. We are conducting aggressive operations against them.
Col. Jeffrey Sodusta, 303rd Infantry Brigade, said they were coordinating with the 6th Regional Mobile Group and the police in Negros Occidental to stop the atrocities of rebels in Negros.
Military records show that the CPP-NPA collected about P200 million and 92 firearms nationwide during the May 2001 elections, and murdered 30 government officials who refused to pay permit-to-campaign fees.
Eighty-one of the 600 barangays in Negros Occidental have been classified by the military as areas of concerns in this years elections.
The NPA is reported by the military to be demanding P500,000 from congressional candidates, P300,000 from gubernatorial bets and P50,000 from mayoral candidates.
By FERNAN MARASIGAN
Candidates in the May elections who will pay the so-called permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees to the communist New Peoples Army may be held criminally liable, the police said Sunday.
If evidence warrants, we will not hesitate to file charges against them. Paying PTCs to the NPA rebels is tantamount to treason, said Senior Supt. Joel Goltiao, National Police spokesman.
But Goltiao admitted that it would be very difficult for authorities to get witnesses and other evidence to prove that a certain candidate or politician paid the NPA to campaign in so-called NPA-controlled territories.
Goltiao said the National Police is working with the Armed Forces to monitor extortion by the NPA, particularly the demand for PTC fees.
Director Avelino Razon Jr., chief of the National Polices Directorate for Operations, said payment of PTC fees to the NPA is an act of aiding and abetting criminal elements.
Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., National Police chief, earlier cautioned candidates in far-flung areas not to fall prey to the election-extortion scheme of the NPA.
Ebdane said the hostile actions by the NPA are designed to project an image of strength and presence in some areas where they intend to pursue extortion in the guise of permits to campaign.
He said the same scheme was also monitored even in some areas with ghost or skeletal guerrilla fronts, and even in some areas where there is no existing NPA armed component or front unit.
This is outright criminal extortion that directly affects the sovereign exercise of free elections, Ebdane said.
He ordered all police regional directors and concerned directors of the National Support Units to initiate aggressive police operations to neutralize the extortion.
Ebdane also cautioned candidates that the NPA would only be too happy to accept bribes to finance the new three-year plan of terrorist expansion envisioned by exiled communist party leader Jose Maria Sison.
In effect bribes paid to the NPA will not be used to propagate ideology or social reform. Instead, they will be used purposely to buy more ammunition, guns and explosives to conduct further atrocities. There is actually no ideology involved, Ebdane said.
By MARS W. MOSQUEDA JR. - Manila Bulletin
CEBU CITY Cebu Gov. Pablo Garcia warned yesterday candidates in the May 10 elections that several people are roaming around pretending to be rebels and collecting "revolutionary taxes" or "permit-to-campaign" fees.
Garcia said several groups are allegedly taking advantage of reports that members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) have started extorting money from candidates.
Garcia cited a case in Barili town where a man introduced himself as a rebel and demanded money, via telephone, from a woman whose husband is working abroad.
The woman asked for police assistance, and this led to the arrest of the man who was later found to be not a rebel but a mere extortionist.
The governor believed that the rebels are really asking money from candidates and that no one could stop the politicians from giving in to the rebels demands for the purpose of getting votes in the rebel-controlled areas.
But the governor warned that the candidates should not be hoodwinked that easy urging them to verify thoroughly, via the police and the military, if a man is a rebel or not. The midnorth areas in Cebu, traversing the boundaries of the third, fourth and fifth districts, are the places believed to be under the influence of the rebels.
Earlier, members of the Regional Intelligence and Coordinating Committee of the Police Region 7 Office (PRO 7) discussed information about politicians in Central Visayas who were giving "permit-to-campaign" (PTC) fees to the NPA.
PRO 7 Director Rolando Garcia said Camp Crame authorities have gotten hold of the names of politicians who have given PTCs and are now studying appropriate actions to be taken against these election bets as soon as it is confirmed that they have given financial aid to the rebel group.
The Central Command (Centcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it already has a list of the names of Cebuano candidates who have been giving financial support to members of NPA in the form permit-to-campaign fees.
But Centcom spokesman Capt. Antonio Ruba said that the Armys Intelligence Division has yet to conduct an investigation to verify the names in the list.
"Centcom will conduct confirmation based on the list," Ruba said. "We will make sure that these candidates really gave cash to NPA for their campaign."
Ruba said that they would immediately submit the list to the Commission on Elections as soon as they could confirm the illegal activities of the candidates.
Meanwhile, Director Garcia confirmed that Centcom is also monitoring politicians in Central Visayas to determine who among them are giving fees to the NPA.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had earlier ordered the military and the police to stop the collection by communist rebels of PTC fees from candidates.
CAMP ALLEN, Baguio -- Politicians in Abra province and nearby Ilocos Sur have reportedly started giving guns and money to communist guerillas to gain access to rebel-controlled areas once campaign period starts.
Lieutenant Col. Elias Escarcha, Civil Relations Service (CRS) group commander for the Cordilleras and Ilocos Region, reported on Saturday that the mainstream New Peoples Army (NPA) under Jovencio Balweg allegedly started collecting P1,000 to P3,000 from politicians in the towns of Malibcong and Bangilo.
Campaign period for national candidates will start on Tuesday while local candidates will start campaigning next month.
Balweg is one of the primary suspects in the assassination of his brother and former renegade priest Conrado "Ka Ambo" Balweg in Malibcong, Abra on Dec. 31, 1999.
Escarcha reported that the rebels were collecting money from mayors and councilors on a monthly basis. He claimed that some of the money even came from the towns' Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share.
In Ilocos Sur, Escarcha said one of the barangay captains in Bananayo town allegedly gave two M-16A1 riffles to the rebels purportedly to gain the support of other barangay chairmen whose areas of jurisdiction are reportedly controlled by the rebels.
Escarcha said the giving of money and guns to the rebels is "simply a form of extortion," chiding the rebels for taking advantage of the May 2004 polls to promote their vested interest in the guise of sourcing out funds to finance livelihood projects in government-neglected areas.
"The rebels have managed to steal blood money from the people and development funds intended for the barangays," Escarcha said.
On Wednesday, communist guerrillas in the Cordilleras announced they would be charging a maximum of P500,000 as permit-to-campaign (PTC) fee from each congressional candidate who wants to woo voters in areas that the former controls.
The Agustin Begnalen Command of the mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) also clarified that only congressional and other local candidates who have no anti-revolutionary records would be allowed to conduct campaign sorties in NPA-controlled areas.
Diego Wadagan, the command's spokesman, also said the P500,000 PTC fee is also negotiable, depending on the economic status of the candidate.
By JAIME ESPINA
BACOLOD CITY - Communist rebels rejected President Arroyos call for them to stop issuing permits to campaign (PTCs) to candidates in the May elections, saying this was part and parcel of the CCP-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army]s revolutionary government function.
President Arroyos call was made immediately following the signing of the Oslo Accord between the government and National Democratic Front following last weeks formal round of peace talks in the Norwegian capital.
The talks, resumed after more than two years in limbo, almost collapsed again over the issue of the continued inclusion of the CCP-NPA and CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison on the terrorist list.
However, differences were ironed out after both parties agreed to undertake joint efforts to work for the rebels delisting.
The President said stopping the exaction of the PTC would show the rebels good faith after the signing of the agreement.
But in a statement reacting to the Presidents call, CPP spokesman Gregorio Rosal said, The resolution of socioeconomic- and political-reform agenda in the peace talks are matters that should be settled first and with dispatch and should not precede the question of the CCP-NPAs PTC policy.
Rosal also called on the President to desist from needlessly distressing the peace negotiations by prematurely raising issues which should be tackled at the proper time.
In the spirit of the peace talks, he said, the President should refrain from issuing derogatory statements that criminalizes legitimate state functions of the revolutionary government.
Without any substantial agreements on socioeconomic and political reforms, Rosal said the President had no business asking the CCP-NPA to stop making its own policies and formulating remedies in the interest of the revolutionary movement and people.
The CPP spokesman claimed that although the rebels have yet to win and establish their government, there nevertheless exist two parallel governments in the country -- the moribund reactionary government and the ascendant autonomous revolutionary government, led by the CPP.
Rosal claimed that revolutionary authorities have as much right to implement and collect fees and taxes as the reactionary government has.
The main difference is that the PTC fees and other revolutionary taxes and collections serve the interests of the people, while the tax and other collections of the Philippine government are pocketed by the ruling class and corrupt big bureaucrats, he said.
Rosal claimed: It is almost always the candidates who seek out the revolutionary authorities to ask permission to conduct their campaigns in the revolutionary [movement-controlled] areas, and that the permits issued by the rebels were also necessary to define the candidates conduct inside territories of the revolutionary government.
AFTER the controversial permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees, the New People's Army (NPA) is now reportedly demanding permit-to-win (PTW) fees from politicians all over the country.
Col. Daniel Lucero, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said Friday they discovered the PTW plan of the NPA from documents seized in a rebel camp in Quezon province few weeks back.
He said in the PTW scheme of the NPA, the candidate who will give the biggest amount to the rebels would win. Lucero said the rebels, in turn, would ensure victory for the candidate by threatening other candidates and the citizens to vote for their chosen candidate.
Lucero said the rebels are demanding as much as P3 million from the politicians for their PTW. He added that the CPP-NPA expects to raise at least P2 billion for their PTC and PTW fees.
"When we started including the NPA in the international terrorist list they lost funds from their international sources so they are badly in need of funding now," Lucero added. - With report from Peng Aliño
With the main victim denying he was held hostage by about 50 New Peoples Army guerrillas, police said Thursday they are going ahead with plans to arrest the rebels involved after identifying at least two of them.
Reports said that Nationalist Peoples Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela, Mayor Leoncio Kiat of Echague and Mayor Virgillo Padilla of San Agustin, a candidate for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and their bodyguards were disarmed and held for hours in barangay San Felipe, Echague, Isabela, for campaigning too early without first paying the guerrillas so-called permit to campaign.
Chief Supt. Jefferson Soriano, Cagayan Valley police commander, said robbery charges are being prepared by his office against members of the suspect band of the NPA.
Soriano said two of the rebels were positively identified by the victims from the police gallery.
Thursday, Aggabao denied, however, he had been kept and restrained by the rebels for not paying permit-to-campaign fee.
Appearing at a media forum in Quezon City, Aggabao said he was just stopped while visiting the barangay because the rebels apparently thought he was ignoring their invitation for them to discuss their imposition.
He said an NPA courier had been sent to his office while he was away and the message did not reach him before he and his party visited the barangay. Aggabao said he and the local rebel band have agreed to set another meeting.
He defended this attitude -- the military said it will criminally charge those who willingly pay the NPA to be able to campaign without being molested by the rebels -- by saying it seems there is no way that politicians, especially in remote districts, could escape caving in to the rebels extortion.
It seems there is no way of avoiding this, especially in Isabela where 70 percent of the areas are influenced by the NPA, said Aggabao. He said he will try to convince the rebels to spare him from paying their fee because his district is very poor.
Observers in the forum immediately pointed out that Aggabao seems to intend to pay, if forced to, from the municipal coffers and that the claim of the military of having driven the NPA to small parts of his political district is just plain propaganda since Aggabao had admitted that a large area is influenced by the communists in his province.
In a telephone interview, Soriano said the 502nd Infantry Brigade under Col. Napoleon Malana had been sent to search for the rebels.
The police and the military are now asking candidates to coordinate with them and ask for additional security if they are to campaign in known rebel-infested areas to prevent the repetition.
In a separate interview, Senior Supt. Joel Goltiao, chief of the National Police public information office, said that since the problem on the NPA extortion activities is a preventive one so those concerned should coordinate with us and ask for additional security if there is a necessity. If they are going to rebel-infested areas under the areas of responsibility of the military, they should coordinate with the military. The same with the PNP.
Party-List Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan blasted the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA for their arrogance and flaunting of power against politicians who are campaigning in areas they control.
Rosales was reacting to the Aggabao incident. I denounce that, she added, saying the NPAs action and all similar others against other candidates were violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and Respect for International Humanitarian Law signed with the government by the rebels.
By Delfin Mallari Jr. and Marlon Ramos
Inquirer News Service
LUCENA CITY -- New People's Army (NPA) rebels under the Lucio de Guzman Command claimed responsibility for the ambush on Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, her aide and three police escorts.
The rebels said the attack was prompted by the lawmaker's refusal to pay permit to campaign fees and for bringing armed escorts in guerrilla zones.
"We had already warned her several times in the past to settle her PTC with us but she kept on ignoring our warning, probably because she was banking on the armed security being provided to her by the police and the military," Higom Maragang, spokesperson of the NPA Lucio de Guzman Command that operates on Mindoro Island, said in a mobile phone interview Thursday.
Maragang chided Sato for her too much dependence on the "false security" being provided by government forces.
"With that line of thinking, she completely ignored the fact that the military and the police were the usual targets of our tactical offensives," he said.
Sato's two convoy vehicles were ambushed by a band of NPA rebels armed with M-16 and M-14 assault rifles in Barangay Alakaak, Sta. Cruz town at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Police said the congresswoman suffered a slight wound in the head while her police escorts were also hit but only suffered superficial wounds.
Occidental Mindoro board member Randy Ignacio was wounded in the right hand.
Maragang said the ambush was not well-planned.
"The Red fighters just grabbed the opportunity when the convoy passed by. They were not even in an ambush position," he said.
"But just the same, we have made our message clear that politicians who would want to enter our territory to campaign must first secure the PTC or else, they will suffer the consequences," Maragang said.
Communist spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal said the NPA attacked the convoy of Sato after the gubernatorial candidate of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats in Mindoro campaigned inside guerrilla territory with soldiers as escorts.
Rosal also said that Sato was "sentenced for her anti-communist drive in Mindoro and her ill-advised decision to work with (the) blood-thirsty military in the island."
"She (Sato) was really hard-headed. We have already made it clear to all candidates who want to enter our controlled areas not to bring in any military or police personnel with them. I hope she now understands that the NPA is serious in implementing our rules," Rosal said.
He also scoffed at Sato who, he said, had challenged the rebels' strength to repel military offensives against the rebel group in the island.
He said the lawmaker even belittled the NPA's "resolve to go against erring politicians like her" and the military's alleged reign of terror in Mindoro.
"Sato even dared the NPA, which she said was diminishing in number, to fight the military. Now her words only fell back straight to her face," Rosal said.
16 rebels charged for detaining solon - March 11, 2004
By Florante Solmerin, Northern Luzon Bureau
CAMP FAUSTINO DY SR., Ilagan, IsabelaPolice filed in court charges of robbery in band against 16 suspected members of the communist New Peoples Army, who held hostage for about two hours Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao of the Fourth District, two mayors and several others in a remote barangay in Echague on February 23.
The charges were filed by Supt. Agripino Lopez Jr., chief of the Intelligence and Investigation Section of the Isabela provincial police, before the sala of Judge Renato Pine of the Ilagan Regional Trial Court.
Named respondents in the charge sheet were suspected NPA members Wilfredo Valencia alias Ka Janus, Evangeline Rapanut alias Ka Dabbie, Victorio Tesorio alias Ka Ikoy, Remedios Dawag alias Ka Rosa, Teofilo Veronilla alias Ka Roy, Roberto Benedicto alias Ka Jun, Renato Busania alias Ka Ric, Bobby Castro alias Ka Bambi, Gavino Acosta Jr. alias Ka Ariel, Arnel Cardona alias Ka Landas, Rolando Busania alias Ka Leo, Fernando Manglay alias Ka Renel, Armando Inong alias Ka Justin, Gloria Dawag alias Ka Mai, Adriano Dulatre alias Ka Norby and Sheryl Arcilla alias Ka Rina.
Lopez said the suspects were members of the Cagayan Valley Regional Committee of the NPAs Southern Front Operational Command.
We are still in the process of identifying the other NPA rebels who joined in the hostage-taking, Lopez added.
The suspects were accused of taking hostage for at least two hours on February 23 Aggabao and two mayorsLeoncio Kiat of Echague and Virgilio Padilla of Jones in the remote barangay of Nilumiso in Echague.
Also with the group was Dr. Matthew Alindada, a candidate for board member in Isabela as well as Police Officer 1 Carlo Valenzuela and Police Officer 1 Alejandro Mateo, who served as escorts of the politicians.
Reports said Aggabao and his party were returning from a campaign sortie in Barangay Nilamisu and neighboring villages when their convoy was stopped by about 50 heavily armed NPA members.
Reports also said the rebels stopped Aggabao and the other candidates for allegedly failing to pay the permit to campaign (PTC) fees demanded by the NPA to enable them to enter rebel-held territories.
Sources from the military and police intelligence community in the province said Aggabao and the mayors paid at least P2 million in fees to the rebels in exchange for their freedom.
Aggabao, however, vehemently denied paying such fees.
Communist rebels step up PTC drive in South Cotabato - March 19, 2004 By ROMER S. SARMIENTO
KORONADAL CITY - Communist rebels have intensified their collection of permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees from local candidates in South Cotabato province, military and local government officials said.
Tampakan Mayor Claudius Barroso, president of the Municipal Mayors League in the province, confirmed that New Peoples Army rebels have started demanding payments from candidates for them to be able to campaign in communist bailiwicks.
I personally received a demand [for a PTC] from the NPA rebels but just ignored it. This is plain extortion, Barroso said.
He urged the other candidates to reject the demand, saying that heeding it would only boost the operational capability of the communist movement.
After receiving the demand, Barroso said he immediately notified the authorities for additional security arrangements in his town, where the NPA has been known to operate.
Lt. Col. Fidel Pumihic, 27th Infantry Battalion commander, also said that several local candidates have been notified by the NPA rebels to pay the PTC fee.
He said he already ordered his troops to intensify their military operations in the mountainous portions of South Cotabato to quell the attempts of the NPA rebels to collect PTC fees from the candidates.
Pumihic refused to identify the politicians whom the rebels had approached.
But reports said that among those who have received demands for the payment of PTC fees were politicians from the municipalities of Tupi, Tampakan, Polomolok, Banga and Tboli.
No PTC for Poe in Misamis - March 17, 2004
The New Peoples Army (NPA) in Misamis Oriental has exempted Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. and his party mates from its permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees, giving the opposition bets freedom to campaign in the province.
The KNP said Poe and his partys exemption from the PTC, which the rebels are imposing on candidates who are campaigning in areas they control all over the country, was an expression of support to his candidacy.
Retired Army Gen. Jaime Echeverria, the KNPs campaign coordinator for Mindanao, confirmed the rebels support to Poe as they monitored that some of the guerrillas even attended Poes huge rally in Claveria town.
We were worried when we heard that NPA rebel bands were deploying in the Hills just outside of Claveria. But we eventually found out that they came out for FPJ, he said.
Echeverria said that while Poe and the entire slate of the KNP are exempted from the PTC, the candidates of the administration are not.
KNP senatorial candidate Juan Ponce Enrile said, The NPA is for the masses, and Poes campaign is anchored on the uplift of the masses. It is no surprise at all that the NPA would go for Poe.
Even in Bicol Region the candidates of the KNP have been passed off from the campaign fee, according to another KNP senatorial candidate, Salvador Escudero.
He said his campaigners have not been harassed while local candidates allied with the administration Lakas party have already paid PTC to the NPA.
GRP to raise PTC at peace talks - Mar 18, 2004
MANILA (AFP) - Philippine government negotiators will question communist rebel extortion of election candidates when peace talks resume in April, a senior official said yesterday. We will definitely have to raise this because of all the appeals of the people (who) want this to be part of the discussion, chief government peace negotiator Teresita Deles told reporters. The New Peoples Army (NPA) has been collecting millions of pesos (tens of thousands of dollars) from candidates in the May 10 elections in exchange for being allowed to campaign unmolested in areas where the rebels are active, military officials say.
Deles conceded that the government did not have a ceasefire in place with the NPA but said their actions could be considered a violation of the comprehensive agreement on human rights that both sides had agreed to in earlier talks.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), have attacked three legislators, several politicians and their aides in recent months, allegedly over their refusal to pay for permit to campaign fees.
Deles said the issue of extortion was raised in the last round of peace talks with the government held in Norway last month but there had not been time to discuss it in depth.
The NPA, which has have been waging a 35-year armed insurgency, has stepped up attacks during campaigning for the elections.
Norways assistant director for foreign affairs, Tore Hattrem, said that the next round of talks would be held in April although he would not say whether they would again be held in Norway. China has rejected a request to host the negotiations.
Hattrem, whose country has been fostering the peace process between Manila and the CPP, said Im optimistic that a peace agreement will be achieved sooner or later, adding that his government was patient enough to wait out any prolonged talks.
Progress in the talks has been hampered by the communists demand that they be taken off the lists of foreign terrorist organizations kept by the United States and other Western nations.
The military announced Thursday that four communist guerrillas, including a local leader, were captured.
Posted: 7:16 PM (Manila Time) | Mar. 29, 2004
Inquirer News Service
DAVAO CITY-Communist rebels forcibly drove away campaigners of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (Alliance of the City People) party, who went to Paquibato district here on Saturday, a party official said Monday.
Wendel Avisado, Hugpong secretary general, told reporters here Monday that their supporters were serving as an advance team for the party's candidates when a group of NPA rebels stopped them from entering Paquibato proper.
Hugpong candidates were scheduled to conduct a rally in at least three villages in the district on Saturday but it was not immediately known whether Duterte was among them.
Avisado said the rebels asked their supporters to get out of the area because the party has not paid permit-to-campaign fees yet.
Paquibato district is a known stronghold of the communist rebels.
The NPA has repeatedly said it would only allow candidates into its areas if they have paid the necessary permit-to-campaign fees.
The incident forced Hugpong to reschedule its campaign in the district.
But Avisado said Duterte was steadfast in his decision not to give in to the rebels' demand.
He said the mayor has urged party members and campaigners to continue with their activities.
"The harassment would not prevent us from going to those areas," Avisado said.
Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the peace panel of the clandestine National Democratic Front (NDF), said the collections would continue even if this would be raised in the next round of talks with the government panel set on March 30 to April 2 in Oslo, Norway.
"The political candidates are the ones who are approaching the revolutionary movement because they recognize our influence and capacity," Jalandoni said on Friday through phone patch from the NDF international office in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
He spoke to around 100 delegates of the regional assembly of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Panay held here.
Anthony S. Allada, Inquirer Mindanao Bureau with a report from Nestor Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas Bureau
By Claudine C. Dumalag
* The victims reveal the suspects who were wearing bonnets pointed at them their firearms that were mostly M14 and M16 armalite rifles
AT LEAST 15 unidentified fully armed men, believed to be guerillas of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), threatened two Municipal Council members in Moises Padilla town last Wednesday afternoon.
Police investigation disclosed that the victims -- Council Members Humphrey Hechanova and Tutie Muchuelas -- were on their way home when the suspects blocked them in a secluded area along Sitio Tobobong, Barangay Quintin Remo, at 1 p.m.
The victims said the armed men wearing bonnets pointed their firearms that were mostly M14 and M16 armalite rifles and directed them to pay the so-called campaign tax or permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees before they could enter the NPA- controlled areas.
The victims further revealed that before the rebels left them, the suspects took their cellular phones.
Troopers of the 11th Infantry Battalion conducted hot pursuit operations around Moises Padilla to locate the suspects.
Brig. General Jeffrey Sodusta, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, recently disclosed that two candidates from southern Negros were receiving extortion letters from the NPAs asking them to pay access fees.
Sodusta deployed troopers in the mountainous areas to prevent further extortion activities.
Reports earlier indicated that NPAs ask politicians P50,000 to P70,000 as campaign fees.
Sodusta advised all candidates not to give in to the rebels' demand.
MANY of the candidates in Mindanao have paid the controversial permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees, said an official of the National Democratic Front (NDF). However, Jorge Madlos, NDF-Southern Mindanao spokesperson, refused to reveal the identities the candidates who paid the PTC fees, saying the NDF is abiding by the confidentiality agreement. I cannot reveal the names of these candidates for their protection, said Madlos, known in the movement as Ka Oris, in an interview over DXDC.
He added that the NDF and its armed component, the New Peoples Army (NPA), will always support the denial of the candidates that they did not pay the PTC fees to protect their candidacies.
By MANUEL T. CAYON
DAVAO CITY - The National Democratic Front (NDF) said almost all candidates in Northeastern and Southern Mindanao regions had paid or were willing to pay the permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees it has imposed on politicians campaigning in communist-influenced areas.
Singling out North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol for his refusal to pay the PTC fee, the NDF warned against any armed challenge to its taxation authority.
Any breach in the authority of the movement by armed means would be met by armed reaction from the New Peoples Army, said Jorge Madlos, alias Ka Oris, NDF spokesman for Mindanao.
Madlos said countless politicians in Mindanao have paid in full or partially, committed to pay, or have not paid yet but have negotiated to be allowed to campaign in areas with guerrilla presence.
He said that almost all have already paid or negotiated in the Caraga [northeastern] and the Southern Mindanao regions, except [Gov. Emmanuel] Piñol, who vowed not to pay it.
Let us just wait at the entire campaign stretch if he would not give in, Madlos said, referring to Piñol.
He warned that if Piñol or any candidate would try to breach this taxation rule by bringing his armed bodyguards, he would be met by the armed might of the revolutionary movement which will neutralize his armed men.
He will not be our target, but if in the course of the fighting he is hit, then so be it, he said.
He added, Armed bodyguards are open targets, especially those without coordination and those whose intention is to protect their master who would not pay revolutionary taxes.
Asked how much the NDF has collected so far, he said, its already in millions, adding that candidates from both the administration and the opposition had negotiated or have paid.
Madlos defended the taxation act of the NDF, saying, We all know that we have two governments existing in the Philippines, the one in Malacañang, the other one in the countryside.
Both have territories, constituency, justice system, administrative activities, and both collect taxes, he said.
Madlos said the big portion of the PTC fees would go to finance the organizing and consolidation activities of the NPA, and the extending of social services.
Only 20 percent of the NPA activities is military, but 80 percent goes to organizing the masses and conducting mass work.
You can just imagine, for instance, 60 NPAs doing organizing work in one place. The food stock of the masses would be easily used up if the movement would not subsidize their presence, he said.
He said the same principle would be used to allocate the taxes paid by logging and mining companies, and other big business activities within the reach of the revolutionary movement.
The revolutionary movement has long tried to reach these politicians for taxation, but it was difficult to trace their business activities, Madlos said. Now that its election time, then it would be easier to tax now.
He said the taxation activity would also be used to exact commitment from or draw their opinion on the basic demands of the masses for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.
Lakas Rep. Josephine Ramirez Sato, a gubernatorial candidate of Occidental Mindoro, urged the government Friday to investigate the two recent ambushes in a month where she was the target and for which the communist-led New People's Army (NPA) claimed responsibility.
"It is not enough that the NPA owned up to these ambushes. I am calling [on] the concerned government agencies to act and investigate these ambushes," she told dzMM. "For all we know, my political opponents are conniving with the NPA to eliminate me."
Sato said she suspects her rivals' involvement in the ambuscades because they would be the "immediate beneficiaries" in case she dies.
For the second time Thursday, Sato survived an NPA attack while her convoy was about to cross a bridge during a campaign sortie.
Sato said she and her running mate, Mario Jean Mendiola, were part of the three-vehicle convoy and were about to cross the Mompong Bridge in barangay Malitbong in Sablayan town when a land mine suddenly exploded but missed to hit their vehicles. No one was reported hurt in the incident.
On March 3 she was also ambushed by NPA guerrillas in Santa Cruz town, which is adjacent to Sablayan. She was with a candidate for the provincial board at the time.
Sato, Provincial Board Member Randy Ignacio and three escorts identified as Senior Police Officer 1 Vic Sagun, Police Officer 1 Larry Hilario and PO1 Noel Layona were wounded in the attack.
MANILA--Communist guerrillas have abducted a town mayor and three bodyguards on the troubled island of Mindoro south of the capital, the military said Monday.
Alex Arenas, the mayor of Pola, was released unharmed eight hours after his kidnapping, but the New People's Army (NPA) is still holding his three bodyguards, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said.
The rebels are demanding P200,000 in ransom, Lucero said in a statement. The NPA wounded a legislator, Josephine Sato, in an ambush on Mindoro last month.
The military alleges the NPA is extorting money from candidates in the May 10 elections and attacking those who refuse to pay up. The Maoist rebels have been waging a 35-year insurgency.
Meanwhile, government troops have rescued a woman who was abducted on the southern island of Mindanao, a military spokesman said Monday.
Marines raided two houses near Maguing town and Marawi city on Sunday and rescued Zambo Bai Amerol, Marine Corps spokesman Captain Rommel Abrau said.
The soldiers arrested three suspects who had demanded P1.2 million in ransom, he added. (AFP)
Church leaders blast communist NPA tax - Monday, April 12, 2004
By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez and Karen M. Flores
CEBU CITY -- Catholic Church leaders in the country plan to issue a statement condemning the collection of revolutionary taxes and warning public officials against giving in to this form of "extortion."
Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal said the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) already agreed to publish a statement "protesting" these acts of rebel groups.
"We will condemn it, yes, certainly. That cuts the freedom of the candidates to go around and be visible to the people," he told reporters in an interview after Easter Sunday mass.
Asked for his advice to candidates under pressure from the Communist New People's Army, Vidal said, "It's up to them. We leave that to their good sense. It's a real problem but what can we do?"
Two of the three leading gubernatorial candidates this year admitted receiving demand letters from armed rebel groups in connection with the May 10 elections.
Gubernatorial candidate Celestino "Junie" Martinez Jr. and lawyer Pablo John Garcia, on behalf of his sister Gwendolyn, confirmed in separate phone interviews that they received hand-carried letters a few weeks ago asking them to "make arrangements so as not to jeopardize the campaign."
Both said they have decided to ignore the letters for now.
Cardinal Vidal, who sits as overall chairman of C-Cimpel, a citizen's arm accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), still hopes there will be "no untoward happening" in the May 10 polls.
Vidal met the PNP, the military and representatives from Comelec 7 and C-Cimpel last Wednesday.
The prelate has also called on the Catholic faithful to vote for "truthful, just and loving" candidates and asked the members of the clergy to guide the electorate to choose those who are wise and morally upright as well.
However, he reiterated his warning to his priests not to get involved in partisan political activity.
"They should never use the pulpit. If they are going to use the pulpit, it is to give the principles on how vote wisely, peacefully and honestly. But to name a person? That would be partisan," he added.
Earlier, the Archdiocese of Cebu and Human Life International recognized 20 of the country's pro-life members of Congress.
Vidal revealed Sunday that it was also during that gathering when he learned about the NPA's collection of revolutionary taxes and cited that in Bohol, a candidate had to pay P300,000 just to be allowed to campaign.
Martinez said a letter delivered to his camp from an armed group whose name he cannot recall demanded for the payment of an "access fee" and that most of the other candidates in his area have received these too.
No amount was specified, however.
So far, he said they have no plans yet about how to treat the letter.
Pablo John, who received the letter sent a month ago to gubernatorial candidate Gwendolyn Garcia, said a "brigade of the National Democratic Front" asked to meet with Gwen or her representative to discuss "arrangements."
He said they chose not to agree to the meeting because "there is no way to verify the authenticity of this brigade, its existence and its purpose."
Pablo John said the "official stand" they have taken is that they will first "verify the authenticity of the letter." "Pending verification, we will ignore it and after verification, we intend to report it to the authorities," he said further.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 is advising candidates and their groups to submit such letters and demands to its Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID) for verification.
The RIID will submit its findings--without recommendation, however--to Comelec. It will then be up to the Comelec to take action on the matter based on the police's findings.
Pablo John and Martinez agreed that the letters are "veiled attempts to extort" money from candidates.
For her part, Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Ina Asirit, campaign coordinator of Vice Gov. John Gregory Osmeña, another gubernatorial candidate, said they have not received such a demand so far, but that they also intend to refuse to "entertain" any letter of this sort.
"If we give them what they want, we would only provide them a means to augment their logistics. That's not good governance because we are supposed to bring them in from the cold," Asirit said in a phone interview.
Asked if this does not pose a security threat to them and the others in their group, Asirit replied, "What will they do? Kill us?"
A candidate who ran in 2001, who asked not to be named, said he received a letter then and that he decided to ignore it. There were neither follow-ups from the supposed armed group or any threat to his life, the candidate related.
Martinez recalled an incident in 2001 when the vehicle of an allied candidate in one of the towns the military calls Cebu's "mid-north area" was sprayed with bullets, allegedly by armed rebels.
He said it was believed that the incident was tied to the candidate's decision to ignore a demand letter.
THE Pampanga Police Provincial Office (PPPO) Monday said the three rebels killed in Barangay San Agustin, Sta. Ana belonged to a group believed to be planning the liquidation of a mayoral candidate in Sta. Ana.
In a press statement, the PPO said the killed cadres were part of a group of 23 armed members of the Komiteng Seksiyon Platoon of the Southeastern Pampanga Guerilla Front Committee-Pampanga Provincial Party Committee. The group, PPPO director Rodolfo Mendoza, Jr. said, has jurisdiction over two armed propaganda units operating in the towns of Arayat, Mexico and Sta. Ana under the command of a certain "Ka Leony."
The group, Mendoza added, may have been outlining the killing of the mayoral candidate - whose name is withheld for security reasons - who reportedly refused to pay permits-to-campaign (PTC) fees.
PTC fees are required by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) from candidates running for elective posts in the upcoming electoral exercises before allowing them to campaign in areas that the rebel group considers as "territories."
The presence of the group in the area was purportedly relayed to the PPPO by concerned barangays tanods who are part of the established Barangay Information Network System.
At 1:15 p.m. Sunday, elements of the PPO composed of the Provincial Special Reaction Unit and the 310th Provincial Mobile Group, Regional Mobile Group 3, and the 69th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army led by Supt. Abner Dimabuyu engaged the rebels in a gunfight that led to the neutralization of the three rebels.
The police also seized from the site two M16 rifles, one M14 rifle, two flares, one hand grenade, eight magazine for M16, four M14 magazine, one bottle Piltrex anti-bacterial capsule, one stethoscope and three backpacks containing subversive documents and personal belongings.
As of Monday afternoon, Sta. Ana municipal police director Narvin Mangune said one of the rebels was identified as Romano Suba Carlos, 22, of Nueva Victoria, Mexico, while the two other fatalities are yet to be identified.
Mangune said military operatives are still monitoring the area for any further operation of the rebel group.
ALICIA, Bohol - As the campaign heats up, at least four alleged members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) on Wednesday evening shot the gas tank and smashed the windshields of a car of an official in this town, sowing terror among the residents in barangay Untaga after firing several shots while a political rally was going on.
The incident came less than a month after the two separate bloody encounters in the hinterland towns of Catigbian and Batuan between government troops and the rebels that killed at least five rebels and one soldier.
In a check in a repair shop, the windshield and glasses of the rear and four doors of the car were shattered into pieces and the gasoline tank was shot, indicating a try to blow up the white GLI Toyota Corolla service car with plate number TTB 557.
Vice-Mayor Verginio Madriñan, who is running for reelection unopposed, said in an interview that he could not believe that the rebels did it to him on April 14, around 10:30 p.m. while he was delivering his campaign speech.
He, however, confirmed that the rebels have been asking from him to pay the permit-to-campaign (PTC) fee, which he refused. He said he never gives in to this kind of extortion ever since he ran for the same post, even when he had an opponent.
Madriñan said he thought they were being fired at while onstage. Witnesses said that the four armed men left the place shouting they are NPAs. R. Obedencio
MANILA -- President Arroyo ordered more police protection Saturday for presidential candidates after a warning from church leaders that communist insurgents could turn the May elections into a farce.
Police must conduct a close watch over armed groups and preempt poll-related violence, said Arroyo, who is seeking a full six-year term in the May 10 polls after assuming the presidency on the back of a military-backed popular revolt three years ago.
I condemn all forms of attacks against political candidates as an attack against the democratic process, she said in a written statement.
At least 70 Roman Catholic bishops issued Friday a condemnation of communist New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas whom they alleged were out to hijack the election through extortion.
Taxation is an act of a sovereign state, the bishops said in a signed public statement.
If candidates refuse to pay the money demanded of them by the NPA and fail to campaign as widely as is their right and lose in their bid to be elected, would that be grounds for declaring a failure of elections?
If the winners are those who paid the NPA, doesn't this mean control of our election process not by the government but by the NPA? they added.
Military officials estimate the NPA has collected at least P5 million in permit-to-campaign fees from candidates.
Police said 117 people have been killed and 124 people wounded in election-related violence incidents since December -- half of them linked to communist attacks.
Arroyo's national security adviser Norberto Gonzales alleged the NPA is extorting money from candidates as well as using its 8,700-strong guerrilla force to coerce and intimidate voters into supporting fringe political parties with alleged ties to the rebels.
Gonzales is seeking the disqualification of these six parties, all of which are seeking seats in the House of Representatives.
Military chief Lieutenant General Rodolfo Garcia said the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been financing its operations through extortion. The NPA has been waging an armed campaign since 1969.
Garcia said the NPA operates in about six percent of the country's 42,000 districts and villages and operates shadow governments in more than 500 villages. AFP
NPAs collect P2 billion in campaign-permit fees - Monday, April 19, 2004
THE New Peoples Army has already amassed P2 billion in permit-to-campaign money, according to an alliance of party-list groups.
Besides money, Remy Rikken of Abanse Pinay said rebels also demand for firearms from local candidates in the May 10 election.
The PTC seems to be taken as a joke. The government has to look into this because the NPA has been benefiting from it, Rikken, whose group belongs to a coalition called Caucus, said at a press conference.
Caucus, in which Akbayan, Anak Mindanao, Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, Butil and Sanlakas are also part of, called on the NPA to be true to its ideals and stop collecting PTC fees.
We ask the Comelec [Commission on Elections], the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to safeguard the election in curbing the NPA armed interference, party-list Rep. Etta Rosales of Akbayan stressed.
She said the extortion activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA teach the candidates to be corrupt when they get elected.
To [recover] their [candidates] loans and expenses in paying the PTCs, they are tempted to commit corruption, Rosales emphasized.
George Paterno of Butil noted that residents in the countryside, including supporters of other party-list groups, are also threatened by the NPA to vote for Bayan Muna, lest they will be killed.
In 2001 besides collecting PTCs, the NPA also demanded that Bayan Muna should win. Now it is demanding that its bets should winor else . . . he said.
Caucus also challenged Bayan Muna and its allies to denounce the NPAs alleged antipeople practice of extorting PTC fees to cast out doubts that they are supporting the rebel group.
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales had accused Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Anak ng Bayan, Migrante and Suara Bangsamoro as among the party-list groups which serve as fronts for the CPP. --Ronnie Calumpita, Correspondent
Posted: 8:46 PM (Manila Time) | Apr. 20, 2004
By Joel Francis Guinto
SUSPECTED members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) kidnapped the mayor of Jiabong town in Western Samar province, her running mate, and an undetermined number of supporters while they were campaigning, a spokesman for the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Tuesday.
In an interview with INQ7.net, Senior Superintendent Joel Goltiao identified the victims as Mayor Chanita Gavieta, her running mate Armingol Cabubas. He added the victims were being kept at an NPA hideout in the municipality of Catbalogan.
Goltiao said police and military operations were underway to recover the mayor and her party.
"That's a very remote area," Goltiao said, referring to Jiabong, which he confirmed was "NPA-infested."
He added the rebels had asked for a 200,000 to 500,000-peso ransom but the victims' families refused.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. They have been harassing candidates into paying extortion money in exchange for campaigning in rebel-held areas.
An incumbent mayor and her wards belonging to the LDP/Lakas alliance were abducted by suspected members of the New Peoples Army in Samar on Monday after the mayor reportedly failed to pay the rebels permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees.
Mayor Minita Gabieta, mayoral candidate of the Lakas-CMD in Jabong, Western Samar, and Vice Mayor Armingol Caub, along with several councilors and supporters were later held for ransom of P500,000.
According to initial reports reaching Camp Crame, Gabieta and her party were abducted by alleged rebel suspects led by a certain Kumander Bambi for failing to pay the permit-to-campaign fees.
The rebels were reportedly demanding P200,000 from Gabieta, P75,000 from Caub and P7,500 each for the councilors. Four of the councilors were identified as Sixto Hernandez, Maria Labang, Reynaldo Limbanan and Hermenegildo Mabutin.
Reports said the rebels ordered Gabietas staff to go back to town to produce P200,000 in exchange for the release of the hostages. They came back with only P100,000, and the hostages were released on Monday evening.
Chief Supt. Dionisio Coloma has directed all police units to monitor the whereabouts of the abductors, who are believed to be hiding in barangay Cagusipan in Catbalogan.
Earlier, Senate President Frank Drilon chided the National Police to take a more aggressive stance in investigating cases involving election-related violence.
The Liberal Party that Drilon heads has been a victim of such violence. L.P. mayoral bet Alex Aranas of Pola, Oriental Mindoro, was earlier abducted by rebels. Five local L.P. leaders were abducted in Batangas and found dead two days later.
Also in Batangas, Venancio Centeno Jr., L.P. candidate for councilor in Talisay town, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman as he ate in a roadside restaurant.
Six more areas, meanwhile, are to be added to the list as areas of immediate concern in the upcoming elections by the Philippine National Police, bringing the total number to 25.
The areas of San Carlos, Pangasinan; Saramon, Isabela; Santiago, Isabela; Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas; Paglas, Maguindanao, and Kastilla, Masbate, were added to the list as primary areas of concern in the May polls.
Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, PNP spokesman, said the PNP is intensifying efforts to neutralize private armies being bankrolled by politicians and violators of the election gun ban.
Goltiao said the police force has arrested 1,617 violators of the election gun ban, seizing 1,276 firearms, of which 357 are high-powered.
The election gun ban will run through June 7.
While the PNP has either neutralized or dismantled six partisan armed groups, there are still 119 such groups, with 81 operating in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Thirty persons have been arrested for election-related incidents, but Goltiao does not expect the incidence (of election-related violence) to rise further.
As of this writing, the PNP has ranked Bicol region as the area most prone to election violence with 10 cases, the highest recorded in any region.
Goltiao stressed that there will be no overload of responsibility in their campaign, saying that duties and areas of jurisdiction are methodically planned out and distributed.
In a recent interview, Goltiao said that electoral candidates will play a vital role in assuring peaceful and orderly elections. He even urged them, particularly those seeking local positions, to sign a peace covenant.
Meanwhile in Maguindanao, a still undetermined number of assailants armed with high-powered firearms and believed to be members of a partisan armed group, strafed a farming village in the town of Datu Sangki last Monday.
Slain were Kabayan, Zacaria and Neria Kamlon. Two other family members, Mara, 10, and Maik, 13, were wounded.
According to reports, the armed men surrounded the victims house in barangay Dimaampo and suddenly went on a shooting spree, triggering pandemonium among residents.The victims were said to be a known supporters of local candidates belonging to the administration party.
Senior Supt. Amerodin Hamdog, Maguindanao police chief, said that they have yet to determine whether the attack was politically motivated, as the Kamlons are also known to be locked in a blood feud with other clans in the area. F. Marasigan, F. Legaspi
By Karl B. Kaufman, Reporter
THE Department of National Defense said on Thursday that at least 19 local candidates in five regions have paid the New Peoples Army almost P6 million in permit-to-campaign fees. Alarmed by the failure of the authorities to discourage candidates from paying the fees, Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita warned the aspirants that by doing so, they are abetting rebellion and terrorism for which they could be held liable.
We are not looking at these circumstances as seasonal, but as a progression in the strategy of the rebels to gain a foothold in our communities and to boost their logistic capability to pursue their ultimate goal of subverting our democratic processes, Ermita said.
The Omnibus Election Code bans contributions in the pursuit of fraudulent campaign schemes, and the Revised Penal Code penalizes willing victims of felonies and the nonreporting of crimes.
Ermita said the candidates who pay the fees would be followed up even during their incumbency to find out what kind of cooperation they are having with the NPA in their areas.
The NPA is reportedly asking each candidate P50,000 to P500,000, depending on the position hes running for.
Citing intelligence reports, Ermita said 10 of the 19 candidates are running for mayor, 3 for councilor, 2 for congressman, 2 for governor, 1 for vice mayor and 1 for an undisclosed position.
He declined to give names, saying it would endanger the lives of the candidates.
Ermita said the report has been sent to the Department of the Interior and Local Government for action.
The report shows most of the candidates are from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and the Caraga region.
The report, presented to Ermita at a command conference at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, also labeled 14 local candidates as NPA supporters.
Military officials had called the fees a form of extortion. They said the NPA has become successful in the racket, because the candidates fail to coordinate security measures with the military in their campaign sorties, particularly in far-flung villages.
During the 2001 election, the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, raked in P12.5 million in campaign fees. It is expected to step up its efforts to exact the fees after the assets of the party abroad were frozen as a result of the terrorist label pinned on it by the US.
As if to emphasize their point, NPA rebels on Wednesday disarmed police and military escorts of a vice-mayoral candidate in Agusan del Sur who refused to pay the campaign fee.
The five bodyguards of Herminio Reyes, who is running for vice mayor in Loreto town, were subdued by about 25 heavily armed rebels while they were campaigning in Sitio Cabuga, Santa Teresa, the military reported.
Reyes was in a convoy with his entire slate when flagged down by the rebels, led by a certain Commander Jimmy Eyod of the groups Front Committee-34.
Reyess security escort comprised two policemen, two militiamen and one soldier. Three M-16 rifles, one Ingram machine pistol, one 45-caliber pistol and one 12-gauge shotgun owned by Reyes were taken by the rebels.
Col. Leopoldo Maligalig, commanding officer of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, said Reyes and his party were released unharmed.
NPA accepts mobile phones as campaign fee - April 25, 2004
By Karl B. Kaufman, Reporter
The New Peoples Army is accepting mobile phones as payment from candidates who want to campaign in NPA-controlled areas, Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita said over the weekend.
Several local candidates have in fact contributed mobile phones to the rebels as a form of campaign fee, Ermita said.
A few are reported to have given not only money but also cell phones, Ermita told reporters.
The rebels permit-to-campaign fees were discussed at length at the command conference of the antiterrorism task force in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, over which Ermita presided.
The mobile phones enhance the operational capability of the rebels because they are able to communicate more effectively, he said.
I thought that this is a matter of concern for the authorities, he said.
Besides cash and mobile phones, the rebels also demand guns and ammunition from the candidates, Ermita said.
The campaign fees paid by local candidates to the communist rebels in this years election have reached P6 million, or half of their campaign collection the in 2001 polls, he said.
The Department of National Defense said at least 19 candidates for local positions have paid campaign fees to the NPA. The aspirants come from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas, military intelligence records show.
Ermita warned the candidates that the police and the military would watch them closely even up to their incumbency to find out what kind of cooperation they have struck with the NPA in their areas.
He said the candidates, whose names were not released to the media, could face possible criminal charges of aiding insurgents, although he said most maintain they were threatened into cooperating by the rebels.
Candidates who give in to rebel demands or allow themselves to be backed by insurgents are abetting lawlessness, rebellion and even terrorism, he said.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, intensified its fundraising efforts this election to make up for lack of funds from sympathizers abroad after Washington put the group on the list of foreign terrorist organizations two years ago.
It is no surprise that the fiercest critics of party-list groups linked to the New Peoples Army (NPA) are other left-wing formations that are also seeking representation in Congress. It also comes as no shock that the NPA has been training its guns, and on some instances actually firing them, on their ex-comrades-turned-detractors.
Such groups as Rep. Etta Rosaless Akbayan are led by former National Democrats (NatDems) who in the early 1990s broke away from what they condemned as the dictatorial leadership of Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). As erstwhile insiders, they more than anybody else have intimate knowledge of what the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, are up to and what they are capable of.
The news media frequently credit National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales with exposing the links of such groups as Bayan Muna, Anak Bayan (not to be confused with Akbayan, although confusion was probably a motive of its founders), Anak Pawis, Gabriela, Migrante and Suara Bangsamoro to the CPP-led National Democratic Front (NDF). Not unexpectedly, these groups have resisted any identification with the insurgent underground; its strange, however, that whenever Sison issues a pronouncement from Utrecht, it is quickly picked up and echoed by Bayan Muna, Anak Bayan, Anak Pawis, Gabriela, Migrante and Suara Bangsamoro like so many loudspeakers.
And when the leaders of these party-list groups, notably Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, try to get back at their critics by accusing them of red baiting, they only succeed in reinforcing further the widespread suspicion that their groups are indeed communist fronts. In this day and age, nobody but communists use terms like red baiting.
While Gonzales has earned media mileage for his exposé, in fact, former NDF members have for several years now been taking their ex-comrades to task for their ideological duplicity and political opportunism.
Although the NDF continues to adhere to the CPPs Maoist program of peoples warfare, other leftists have chosen to pursue their vision of a just and humane society through community organization, socioeconomic and political research, constituency building and election participation. While Sison and his followers insist on carrying out armed struggle and all its deadly consequences, their ex-comrades have chosen the path of parliamentary struggle.
In the beginning, the leftists estrangement was a civil schism, but it did not take too long for those who remained underground to begin baring their Stalinist fangs. The communists response became particularly ferocious when criticism mounted over the NPAs collection of permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees and the exemption the rebels granted to their front organizations.
Without presenting any evidence, the NPA has taken to branding as military collaborators its disaffected comrades who have taken up the anti-PTC call. A flyer recently posted on the gate of Rosales, for instance, proclaimed Akbayan as the partido ng AFP. Given the insurgents bloody reputation, the congresswoman has good reason to fear that she has been targeted for assassination.
Other non-NDF party-list groups have already actually shed blood. Aksyon Sambayanan, also led by ex-NatDems, claims to have recently lost three of its members in Quezon to masked gunmen. That the killers were communist hit men, Aksyon Sambayanan has little doubt.
Professor Joel Rocamora, an official of the non-NDF Institute for Popular Democracy, has asked why the media, which are wont to focus on right-wing violence, has not been as ready to call the publics attention to the communists demonstrated capacity for and record of carnage. And he has a point.
For decades, the Philippine media have reported on the communist insurgency with thinly disguised bias. This is may be due to the fact that a good number of journalists who now occupy responsible posts in their respective news organizations had come in their youth under the NatDem spell. Vestigial sympathy for the movement remains and has prevented many reporters, opinion writers, analysts and editors, despite reaching middle age, to exercise the kind of objectivity their profession requires.
At the end of the day, the only kind of balance expected of journalists is to make sure political activists dont fall victim to state or military harassment, but at the same time seeing to it that these same activists do not use the mantle of human rights to harass those who dont share their ideology.
MANILA, May 10, 2004 (STAR) By Christina Mendez - The Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) has mobilized local cadres and followers to ensure the victory of six leftist party-list groups in todays elections, a Philippine National Police official reported yesterday.
Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior police intelligence officer who has worked in counter-insurgency operations for the past 20 years, said CPP-NPA chairman Jose Ma. Sison has given the marching orders to the members of the local communist movement to use all means to ensure that these party-list groups gain a seat in the House of Representatives.
Mendoza identified the groups being supported by the CPP-NPA as Bayan Muna, Anak ng Bayan, Gabriela Womens Party, Anak Pawis, Migrante and the Suara Bangsamoro Party.
The PNP and the military have been vocal against the activities of the NPA and regard the insurgents as most potent during elections.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao branded the NPA as extortionists for collecting permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees from local candidates.
Mendoza said the NPAs plan was revealed after police seized documents detailing this plan from a certain "Ka Andres," an NPA leader belonging to the Palermo Ortañez Command in Pampanga.
A certain Ka Roy of the NPAs national military staff has issued a directive ordering communist rebels involved with various underground and legal fronts of the communist movement to take part in the polls.
Ka Ares is said to be the vice commanding officer of the NPAs regional special operations group under the Central Luzon Regional Committee.
He was wounded and arrested by the Pampanga police during an encounter in Barangay Salu in Guagua town while he was officiating the wedding of two NPA rebels.
Tapped to do political legwork for the left-leaning party-list groups were the NPAs political officers, provincial coordinating committees, mobile propaganda teams, guerrilla units, self-defense teams, local leftist groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that serve as fronts for the CPP-NPA, Mendoza said.
The NPA has also been monitoring the movements of Akbayan party-list group led by Etta Rosales. The NPA has accused Rosales of having entered into an alliance with the military.
Besides this, Mendoza said, the NPA has also directed its spy network to include individuals and groups providing electoral funds to Akbayan and other "counter-revolutionary" forces in its offensives.
A BRITISH national who observed Mondays elections chanced upon a permission-to-campaign (PTC) form issued by the New Peoples Army (NPA) in Bohol last Monday.
Simon Brook, a consultant from the United Kingdom, found documents with a receipt for P50,000 from the Peoples Revolutionary Government (PRG), through the NPA, to allow the payee to campaign within the PRG/NPA guerilla territories.
The receipt, signed by a certain R. De los Santos from the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP), has no name of the payee who allegedly paid for the campaign of a certain candidate.
Brook monitored the elections in Bohol with Korean Hyo-Seon Park, while Australian Christopher Scott and Korean Kim Hyo Seon observed the polls in Sogod, Carmen, Catmon and Danao, declared areas of concern in Cebu Province. (Danao was later placed under Comelec control.)
This is not a peaceful election. Weve seen demonstrations, alleged cheating and people receiving money, reported Brook.
While reporting his unofficial findings, in a press conference yesterday morning, he expressed his confusion on the contradictory reports.
The government, he said, reports an orderly and peaceful elections while the national dailies reported that Mondays elections were the bloodiest in two decades.
Weve seen ballot-buying. Weve seen PTCs. These are indicators that this is not a generally peaceful and fair election, Brook added.
The British observer also admitted he was slightly disappointed at the reaction of public officials.
Its very unlikely that things will change in a very short time. Theres no motivation, he said. Brook, with his three other companions, are members of the International Observers Mission, a seven-day monitoring mission composed of 16 persons deployed in various parts of the country.
The mission was tasked to observe the conduct of Philippine elections and to reinforce local monitoring of the Compact for Peaceful Elections commitments.
The Compact for Peaceful Elections is a national initiative of civil society and church-based groups launched in February this year.
The Akbayan-initiated compact was signed by all the presidential candidates, the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan and Kugi Uswag Sugbo parties and gubernatorial candidates Celestino Martinez Jr. and John Gregory Osmeña.
Cathy Ruiz of Akbayan reported that their team was asked to look into the Daanbantayan incident.
A campaign worker was shot to death last Monday in Daanbantayan, adding to the 21 new deaths in election-related violence and bringing the death toll to at least 114 since the beginning of the campaign three months ago.
We would like to coordinate closely with the PNP and look fully into this case, said Ruiz.
We would like to see what we can do to help the family of the victim, Ruiz added, saying the compact organizers may extend legal assistance.
However, she stressed that they will not be used as a tool by any party.
A national press conference will be held in Manila on May 14 to report the observations of all the 16 foreign observers.
By JAIME ESPINA TODAY Reporter
BACOLOD CITY - A Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) tax collector admitted taking monthly collections from at least 21 sugarcane plantations in Silay City, but said commanders of the rogue rebel group had never made an accounting of what they did with the money.
At the same time, Rizaldy Flores, 20, of barangay Guimbalaon, said the two RPA commanders responsible for Silay had quarrelled over which mayoral bet to support in the May 10 electionsincumbent Mayor Carlo Gamban or his estranged cousin and predecessor Edwin Velezafter receiving money from both candidates.
Flores was captured along with a friend, Richan Roldan, 24, also of Guimbalaon, by New Peoples Army (NPA) guerrillas on May 4 on their way back from collecting money from Hacienda Paquit in Silay.
In an interview in an NPA encampment where they were being held, the RPA member said he had hitched a ride home on Roldans motorcycle but had asked his friend to pass by the sugarcane plantation first so he could collect the P500 the hacienda management gave them monthly.
They were blocked by an NPA unit as they headed back from Paquit.
Ka Carl, spokesman for the NPA unit holding the two, said they had seized a .38-caliber pistol, a cellular phone and extortion money from Flores. Ka Carl said that, since the RPA surrendered to the government [through a peace agreement with the Estrada administration], they have lost the legitimate right to collect taxes. So what they are doing now is plain extortion.
NPA sources said Flores and Roldan were released shortly after the interview and were expected to have left Negros shortly, as they had indicated they would do during the interview.
Earlier, Ka Carl had indicated that, despite earlier statements that Flores may have to be tried before a peoples court, it might not be necessary because, as far as we know, many of the RPA rank and file are innocents who were only tricked or cajoled into joining.
Flores, in particular, said he strongly believed his superiors in the RPA would get back at him for the information he divulged to the NPA during his captivity. But even Roldan said he, too, was afraid of RPA retaliation, even if he was a civilian, because they would suspect me of informing on them.
During his interrogation by his captors, a taped record of which was made available to Today, Flores also confirmed that the 12-man RPA unit he belonged to had an assigned handler, an officer he identified only as Yam-o, from the police Regional Mobile Group.
This bolstered accusations by the NPA and other quarters that the RPA has become another government militia. Handlers are allegedly enlisted military or police personnel assigned to command the Citizens Armed Forces Geographic Units.
However, Flores said Silay RPA commander Ka Maitan and Yam-o were not on good terms because the police seldom coordinate with us when they enter our area, a common complaint that has also riled other police units who feel the RPA are accorded a better status than they.
According to Flores, who had been an RPA member for around a year, he was recruited by Ka Maitan and, although I really had no intention of joining, I was eventually convinced because they would pass by our place often and take me with them.
Flores, who was in third year high school, quit to become a member of the 12-man RPA unit in Silay. After three months as a combatant, he said he was relegated to collector and errand boy of Maitan.
Flores said the money he collected monthly was remitted to Maitan and given out as personal allowances and support for the families of married RPA members.
When asked if he was aware that, under a peace agreement between the RPA and government, the breakaway rebel group was supposed to receive substantial funds for livelihood and other projects, Flores, who claimed to have been given charge of finances for Silay, said: We in the rank and file do not know if any funds have come from government. I really do not understand much; I do not know exactly why the collection is needed, only that it is for our personal expenses.
Flores also admitted that I really do not know much about what we are and what we stand for. The only education he recalls receiving was about discipline but my companions are actually very rowdy and abusive, especially when drinking.
He also said he had been told that the NPA were terrorists. Thus, when he and Roldan were captured, I really believed it was the end for us, that we would be tortured and then killed. But now that I am in their hands, I realize this is not true, he said. We eat what they eat, they tend to our needs, we sleep well. In fact, it is they who cannot sleep guarding us. We are very thankful they have not harmed us.
Flores said he had no plans of revenge on the NPA or their mass supporters even as he apologized to his RPA comrades for having been captured. Nevertheless, he added, I am not going back to them. I want to start a new life.
Even before his capture by the NPA, Flores said he had already harbored plans of leaving the RPA. In fact, he had told Roldan that the Paquit collection was to have been his last. He said he was being pressured by his parents and fiancee to leave the rogue rebel group.
But, he added, he also had deep misgivings, particularly reports of abusive commanders. He acknowledged one incident in Talisay City last year when Maitan had reportedly fired his weapon after losing in a cockfight. Flores said he heard that Maitan had lost about P20,000.
He also cited what he called RPA national commander Stephen Paduanos penchant for disowning RPA members who run into trouble.
While acknowledging the capture of Flores could lead to more and bloodier clashes between the rival guerrilla groups, Ka Carl said, We have always expected this to happen since, from their surrender, the RPA has always made us part of their target and joined the military in hunting us down.
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