By Francis Wakefield
National Security Adviser and Vice Chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELCAC) Hermogenes Esperon has formally written to the European Union (EU) to “immediately cease” its funding being funnelled to groups acting as legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
In a letter to Gilles De Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator dated March 26, Esperon said EU funds are being used to sustain terrorist activities of the longest existing communist terrorist organization in the world — the CPP-NPA — which is listed as a terrorist group by both the United States and the EU.
Esperon underscored that the funds are being used “to propagate terrorism” through international alliances and networks, and are utilized to finance terrorist front organizations to recruit, traffic, and exploit children to become child warriors.
He added that EU funds are also being used “to recruit and exploit vulnerable sectors such as indigenous people (IP), the systematic destruction of the latter’s culture and value system, and the murder of their leaders.”
Esperon said the CPP-NPA has successfully established international alliances in different parts of the world through its front organizations purportedly to address social ills afflicting the society.
As admitted in the CPP’s publication entitled “Constitution and Program: Communist Party of the Philippines, 2016,” Esperon said the group has already created its networks while boasting a strategy that includes armed struggle and the use of progressive alliances.
“Their former communist members knew very well that the CPP-NPA is using front organizations, which are symbolically functioning in accordance with the same objectives and methods through violence,” he said.
In the letter, Esperon listed three Belgian NGOs which has “indirectly and unwittingly partnered” with various NGOs in the Philippines that act as legal fronts of the CPP-NPA, namely the SOLIDAGRO, Viva Salud, and KIYO.
Among the listed Philippine NGOs were the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); IBON Foundation; Karapatan; Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.; the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines; the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc.; the Alliance of Health Workers; the Kilusang Mayo Uno; Gabriela; and ACT.
Esperon said the ALCADEV and Salugpungan are identified as CPP-NPA alternative learning centers and schools.
“It is appalling that these entities are used to radicalize children with the end view of turning them into child warriors and future leaders of the CPP-NPA communist-terrorist groups,” the letter reads.
These learning institutions were found to be filled with books published by IBON Foundation, which contents “clearly show that it is intended to radicalize students by urging them to be grievously critical to the government.”
“The IBON books attempt to inculcate in the minds of the students fabricated and unfounded claims that the government is remiss in its obligation to its citizenry,” he added.
The official said the CPP-NPA also recruits people from the vulnerable sector such as peasants, fishermen, and IPs, among others.
“Through these front organizations, the CPP-NPA is able to solicit and exploit funds from countries in the EU and the EU itself to support legitimate projects that are made to appear as aiding the poor,” he noted.
Esperon bared that 60 percent of the funding received by the Filipino NGOs are diverted to the NPA through their “triple or multiple funding scheme.”
The scheme is said to be implemented by simultaneously submitting a single proposal to different countries.
Countries or funding agencies who have given their seal of approval are unaware that they are funding a particular project, which had already been funded by other countries or funding agencies.
As a result, a single project receives double funding, Esperon said, hence the front organizations can easily clear and liquidate the use of the solicited money when audited.
To date, holdings on these schemes are based on reports but Esperon said pieces of evidence are being consolidated to be provided to EU as soon as completed.
In an official communication dated March 27, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. concurred to the calls to stop the funds flowing to local groups fronting for the CPP-NPA.
Locsin affixed a portion of the Philippine statement that he delivered at the Ministerial Segment of the 62nd Session of the Commission on Narcotics and Drugs held in Vienna, Austria last March 14.
“EU funding continues for the widely detested, nowhere supported, and foredoomed communist insurgency composed of the last dregs of the New Khmer Rouge, as US intelligence branded them in the late 80s,” Locsin said in the statement.
“In this endeavor, EU NGOs support a cause unquestionably lethal but totally unredeemed by any prospect of success. Their generous contributions promise at best the prospect of a small and ragged parade under a cracked marble arch to the strains of a broken Hallelujah. As always, the Philippines fights its battles alone; it needs no help; it fears no opposition from any quarter; but it wouldn’t mind a little understanding,” he added.