Sunday, March 31, 2013

AFP steps up intel work vs NPA 'permit-to-campaign' imposition on bets

From InterAksyon (Mar 31): AFP steps up intel work vs NPA 'permit-to-campaign' imposition on bets

Military intelligence units have been fielded to blunt alleged extortion by the New People’s Army (NPA) in areas where candidates for the May 13 polls were monitored to be negotiating for so-called permit-to-campaign (PTC) fees just to enter rebel-controlled villages.

Many candidates have been reported desperate to campaign in “red zones” despite earlier warnings by the government they face prosecution for giving money to rebels.

Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., military spokesman, said, “We will not let our guard down as we continue intensified intelligence and monitoring efforts, intelligence exchange with other law-enforcement agencies, and active cooperation with the PNP to thwart any atrocities, violence and extortion activities in relation to PTC.”

Burgos claimed rebels even sent “election rates” through letters last February to certain candidates in Northern Luzon and Eastern Visayas.

He cited data showing that in 2012, “the NPA has collected a total of P25.5 million through their extortion activities.”

Based on new information of the AFP Civil Relations Services (CRS) chief Brig. Gen Rolando Jungco, the NPA’s demand for election fee varies across positions.

He cited as an example the NPA under the Samar Provincial Party Committee (SPPC) under the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC). The NPA was demanding from mayoral candidates P750,000; for vice mayoral bets, P500,000; and councilor, for P5,000. “The NPA assigned collectors with instructions that payments can be paid completely or on installment basis,” Jungco said.

A gubernatorial candidate was asked to pay of up to P5 million, the military said.

According to Jungco, “the same extortion scheme the NPA was imposing on candidates in Southern Mindanao. The Southern Mindanao Regional Committee’s (SMRC) GF-51 reportedly imposed these permit-to-campaign fees on politicians running for local seats in Davao del Sur: mayor, P100,000-P150,000; vice mayor, P50,000-P100,000; and councilor, P10,000-P20,000.”

Military intelligence units are now watching groups and individuals being used by the NPA to collect fees from poll bets. They are called “white area committee” and serve as conduits and facilitators, he said.

Director General Alan Purisima of the Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier warned candidates, especially incumbent officials vying for re-election, that should evidence turn up showing they payelection fees to the NPA, they could face criminal charges.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines previously assured the candidates that it will continue to undertake serious actions to put a stop to all of NPA’s extortion schemes and terroristic activities. The military likewise encouraged election candidates, owners of businesses, as well as ordinary citizens to speak out and immediately report to the proper authorities if they encounter similar incidents of extortion. The more the candidates and the voters are made aware of this extortion scheme the more they can guard themselves against it,” Burgos said.

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