By Camille A. Aguinaldo and Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporters
Malacañang on Friday called on the European Union anew to reconsider funding organizations allegedly being used as legal fronts of the communist rebellion.
“The EU should (stop) because the funding will be used in destabilizing the government. If these are legal fronts and the main purpose is to break down government, then the EU, who’s funding it, should reconsider,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a televised press briefing at the Palace.
Mr. Panelo’s statements came after National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon had written the EU with the same plea. Mr. Esperon announced last Tuesday that he has informed Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles De Kerchove that the EU funds were being used to recruit vulnerable sectors in the country, such as indigenous peoples.
He also noted that three Belgian nongovernmental organizations have partnered with NGOs that served as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA).
The office of the EU Delegation to the Philippines was sought for comment as of this reporting.
The military has also conveyed the same request to the Philippine delegation to the EU last February, identifying seven Belgian organizations under the “front organizations” of the CPP.
The Philippines also raised this matter before the United Nations Human Rights Council during its 40th Session in Geneva, Switzerland.
During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues on March 13, Majella Cristy U. Pua-Diezmos of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations and Consulate General in Geneva told the international body that these groups set up “pseudo-schools or learning centers” in the indigenous communities for recruitment.
“In the Philippines, the communist terrorist group, an armed non-state actor, has been using front organizations to set up and run pseudo-schools or learning centers in vulnerable indigenous communities to recruit and use children as combatants and for other exploitative ends,” Ms. Pua-Diezmos said.
“These pseudo-schools package their illicit activities as educational and alternative learning programs for marginalized indigenous children and youth, and have been benefiting from funding from unsuspecting international donors,” she added.
In a statement sent to BusinessWorld on Friday, the EU Delegation to the Philippines said they have received the documents “concerning the more specific allegations by the Government.”
It has also made an initial audit into the issue, which did not reveal irregularities. But it would undertake a second specialized and in-depth audit again.
“The EU now will verify and evaluate these documents. A financial audit by an external company is due to be conducted in April,” the EU Delegation stated.
“The EU only supports organisations in the Philippines that are fully legally registered according to Philippine legislation. If any of these organisations are funnelling funds to the CPP this would be in violation of both EU and Philippine legislation. The EU Is therefore encouraging the government to provide specific proof confirming the allegations so that the EU can take appropriate legal action,” they later added in a separate statement.
The EU also noted that it considered the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups since 2005, “which means inter alia that no assets can be held in EU by these organisations.”
NPA AT 50
Also on Friday, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria C. Sison issued a statement marking the 50th year of the party’s armed wing, the New People’s Army.
“It is fighting for the national and social liberation of the Filipino people, mainly the toiling masses of workers and peasants, against the three evil forces of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism,” Mr. Sison said in a statement, Friday.
“The revolutionary struggle becomes even more just when it confronts a brazenly treasonous, tyrannical, brutal and corrupt regime like that of Marcos or Duterte,” he added.
Mr. Sison, who is also chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the communist movement’s umbrella organization, said the NPA now has a total of 110 guerilla fronts, scattered in 73 out of 81 provinces in the country.
He said the rebels are now in the advanced stage of strategic defensive and may soon come to a strategic stalemate, or when “NPA companies and then battalions will be able to wage regular mobile warfare and launch tactical offensives that can wipe out larger enemy formations.”
“As sure as the sun rises and sets, the NPA and the people are able to see the wide gaps between enemy points and the lines of supply and patrols, and can proceed to wipe out the enemy forces part by part,” he said.
For its part, the Surigao del Sur local government has agreed to pass a resolution barring the CPP-NPA from the province, Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año said in a statement on Friday.
“The government cannot do this alone. The LGUs declaring the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata is an assurance that we have allies in this war against insurgency,” Mr. Año said.
He also cited similar initiatives by other localities, such as the provinces of Davao Oriental and Occidental, Compostela Valley, villages in Surigao del Norte, tribes in North Cotabato, 21 barangays in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and the municipality of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.