By Chito Chavez
Paying “permit to campaign fees’’ to communist rebels is tantamount to supporting terrorism.
This was the stern warning of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to all governors, mayors and all political aspirants directly or indirectly giving financial, material, and political support to communist terrorist rebels as well as other non-state sectors.
DILG Assistant Secretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya reminded all electoral candidates that such violations will be considered as terroristic acts that carry the stiffest sanctions as stated in the Constitution.
He said all political aspirants should not be made as tools for these unlawful acts asserting the “practice becomes an opportunity to these non-state actors to raise funds to fuel their campaign against the government they wish to overthrow’’.
“Secretary Eduardo Año has issued Memorandum Circular 2018-211 reminding all local chief executives and LGU officials that giving any form of support to communist rebels is a violation not only of Executive Order 733 but also of RA 10168,” he said.
“Many re-electionists are in the heat of campaign mood, whether discreetly or openly, as the May 2019 midterm elections near. Paalala lang po na huwag magpaloko at magbayad ng ‘permit to campaign’ or ‘permit to win’ sa mga komunistang grupo na itinuturing ng gobyerno na mga terorista (I remind them not to accede and pay “permit to campaign to win’’ to communist groups that the government considers as terrorists),” said Malaya.
In the said Memorandum Circular, Año directed all regional, provincial, city and municipal peace and order councils to apply moral suasion or to recommend sanctions against local chief executives who are known to have supported communist rebels.
Saying that this practice has long been in existence in Philippine politics, Malaya branded such acts as unpatriotic where rebels demand money from political candidates in exchange for trouble-free campaign sorties in the hinterlands where the terrorist groups operate.
He emphasized the scheme is clearly a form of extortion and is repugnant to the right of suffrage not only of the candidates but of the individual voters as well.
“The DILG is calling all LGUs and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all candidates and political parties are allowed unhampered entrance in every LGU and to ensure the peace and order in all areas, including those considered as hotbeds of insurgency, so that all candidates and political parties are given access to the electorate during the campaign period without intimidation or manipulation by any group,” he added.
Section 4 of the Republic Act (RA) No. 10168 otherwise known as “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012,” states that: “Any person who, directly or indirectly, wilfully and without lawful excuse, possesses, provides, collects or uses property or funds or makes available property, funds or financial service or other related services, by any means, with the unlawful and wilful intention that they should be used or with the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part: (a) to carry out or facilitate the commission of any terrorist act; (b) by a terrorist organization, association or group; or (c) by an individual terrorist, shall be guilty of the crime of financing of terrorism.”
Those found guilty of committing the said provision of RA 10168 shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua and a fine of not less than P500,000 nor more than P1-million.
Malaya noted the DILG may also file other charges pursuant to the Revised Penal Code and other pertinent laws and seek the disqualification of all those candidates who shall be proven to have cooperated with said non-state actors in accordance with the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code.
“The same course of action shall be undertaken against those incumbent local government officials or employees who shall cooperate or give aid in any form or manner– material or otherwise, to non-state actors without prejudice to the administrative cases that shall be filed against them,” added Malaya.
Malaya said the local chief executives should instead support the entry into mainstream society of former communist rebels through the national government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the interagency Task Force Balik-Loob.
The E-CLIP’s expanded benefit package for communist rebel surrenderers include enrolment in the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System and issuance of certification of completion of elementary or high school education. Their spouse or children can also get matriculation and stipend for college education.
Former rebels also get livelihood materials or employment assistance through referral to government agencies or private companies as well as housing assistance or housing unit from the National Housing Authority.
Each former rebel as E-CLIP beneficiary gets a P15,000 immediate assistance for mobilization expenses while his or her enrolment in the program is being done as well as a P50,000 livelihood assistance and firearms remuneration.
“Napakakomprehensibo po ng benepisyong ibinibigay ng pamahalaan sa mga komunistang rebeldeng nais bumalik sa normal na pamumuhay. Daan-daan na po ang nakikinabang at muling lumiliwanag ang buhay kasama ang kani-kanilang pamilya (The government has given comprehensive benefits to the communist rebels wishing to line normal lives. Hundreds have already benefitted from this as they now live peacefully with their families),” said Malaya.
E-CLIP beneficiaries also get a monthly modified conditional cash transfer from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); livelihood materials or employment assistance; and free legal assistance through the Department of Justice – Public Attorney’s Office, among other benefits.