DEFENSE Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said funding for the underground communist movement remains a challenge to the government in its objective to end the insurgency.
“For me, funding, more than top-level leadership, is the more critical challenge for the government in 2019. We enter an election year. CPP-NPA generates huge funds by extorting money and collecting permit-to-campaign fees from local candidates,” Mr. Lorenzana said in his speech at a forum in Makati City on Thursday, Jan. 17.
He added, “What can we do? To businesses and the private sector, stop giving so-called ‘protection money’ to the CPP-NPA. They are actual threats, you need to work closely with the AFP and PNP in your area.”
The Defense chief added, “To local candidates, show your love for our country. Do not pay any PTCF (permit-to-campaign fees). Stop funding the communist insurgents who do nothing but sow terror and anguish within our communities.”
Last Sunday, the Department of Interior and Local Government warned about the “permit-to-campaign fees” imposed by communist rebels in areas where they operate.
Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año has released Memorandum Circular 2018-211 reminding local officials that accommodating such illegal fees is a violation of Republic Act No. 10168 or The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.
Mr. Año said the collection of the said fees is prevalent in Mindanao. Martial law continues to be enforced in this region.
“This is prevalent in communist insurgency affected areas like in Eastern Mindanao, Western Samar, and Bicol. Konting areas lang pero inaabuso ng (Just a few areas but this is abused by the) CPP, NPA, NDF. They collect from mayors, governors, councilors, and even congressmen,” he said in an interview.
“If they can campaign in those areas, that’s an advantage against their political opponents and that means votes. Also they are hoping the NPAs will endorse them.”
In another development, Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte did not authorize Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) member Avelino L. Andal to initiate back-channel talks with exiled National Democratic Front of Philippines (NDFP) Chief Jose Maria C. Sison for the resumption of the peace talks.
“Mr. Andal was not authorized. He was not authorized to do back-channeling, the President himself had said so,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a press briefing.
In a DZMM interview on Tuesday, Mr. Andal said the President ordered him “last week” to lead backdoor talks with Mr. Sison.
“Siguro puyat na siya, baka inaantok na siya, baka (He was probably sleepy, so) he misunderstood the conversation. Can’t blame him,” Mr. Panelo said, referring to Mr. Andal’s conversation with the President. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras and Arjay L. Balinbin