By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday warned candidates in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) against giving in to the communist New People’s Army’s (NPA) “permit to campaign” and “permit to win” extortion schemes.
In a press briefing hosted by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), PNP Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR) chief Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo said candidates paying campaign fees to communist rebels will face the full force of the law.
“We would like to remind them that providing financial support to CTGs (communist terrorist groups) for their permit to win, permit to campaign, is punishable under particularly under Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) 10168, or the Anti-Terror Financing Act of 2012 and RA 11479 or Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020,” Okubo said.
“This act can be considered as supporting or financing terrorism, because we have a regulation on this and they are considered as terrorist organizations by a number of countries,” he added.
Although Okubo said the PNP “has no records of election-related plans and activities of the CTGs”, they will not let their guard down in protecting and securing the integrity and sanctity of votes of the BSKE.
Okubo said the NPA strength nationwide based on the directorate’s intelligence data has severely dwindled to 1,529.
Of the number, 707 are in Luzon, 575 are in the Visayas, and 247 are in Mindanao.
“Aside from the areas in Northern Samar under our watch, we have 19 guerrilla fronts that have been considered weak but we are continuously monitoring them,” he added.
These guerrilla fronts are found in the Ilocos-Cordillera areas, Tarlac-Zambales, Southern Tagalog, Panay Island, Samar Island, Negros highlands, Misamis Occidental, Caraga and Soccskasargen.
Although these fronts have been weakened, Okubo said NPA remnants can still operate to extort money from candidates willing to give out of fear of being inconvenienced in their campaign sorties.
Meanwhile, National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Undersecretary Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema appealed to voters to elect deserving candidates to become youth leaders of the country and not those who desired to bring down the government.
“Bakit kayo papasok sa gobyerno kung ang gusto niyo pala ay pabagsakin ang gobyerno? (Why are you joining the government when your aim is to destroy it?),” Cardema said, referring to candidates who had CTG orientations.
He emphasized that the country needs youth leaders who actively participate in nation-building and not those who wish for the government’s downfall. (PNA)