THE government on Sunday said communist rebels have imposed a flat-rate of P300,000 on all mayoralty candidates for “permits to campaign” and “permits to win” in the 2016 elections.
Government chief peace negotiator with the National Democratic Front Undersecretary Alex Padilla said the New People’s Army has also made its recruits salaried cadres receiving wages of P3,500 a month and a subsidy of one sack of rice a month.
In an interview over radio dzBB, Padilla expressed fears that the NPA cadres are no longer operating based on ideology but for money.
“We are concerned about this development. They now charge all mayoralty candidates to pay a flat rate of P300,000 for a permit to campaign. Not just the mayoralty candidates but also the councilors, congressmen and senators. The higher the office, the bigger the fees,” Padilla told dzBB.
In the past, Padilla said the candidates could still negotiate the rate. Now, he said, the NPA has imposed a flat rate.
“This is alarming because they are demanding more money and are being very bold about it,” Padilla said in Filipino. “Regardless of their strength in an area, they are demanding payment, and what is sad is that it looks like some candidates are paying.”
Intelligence reports reaching his office showed that the CPP-NPA has also imposed the same flat rate for a “permit to win,” he said.
“The permit to win must be paid because even if the candidate has already won, they would not allow him or her to assume power until the CPP-NPA gets paid. They would harass and terrorize the winners until they pay up,” Padilla said.
This includes mounting an ambush against the winner or sending out death threats, Padilla said.
“The candidates or even winners don’t feel safe. They get scared because the CPP-NPA are armed and they have the power and capability to do it,” he said.
Padilla said the Armed Forces of the Philippines can only do so much and could not protect all areas.
“The CPP-NPA is using fear to get what they wanted,” he said.
Padilla said the sources of funds of the CPP-NPA used to come from abroad. Now, he said, they raise funds domestically.
“They impose revolutionary taxes on companies. Now they use the elections to raise funds,” he said.
The CPP-NPA has learned to consider itself the government and so they started aggressively imposing revolutionary taxes particularly in areas where there were mining companies.
While he has yet to confirm reports that the insurgents were involved in maintaining marijuana plantations, Padilla said, he would not be surprised if they did so.
“We also received reports that they are now paying regular compensation to the NPA guerrillas. Unlike before or 10 years ago, when they were purely volunteers,” Padilla said.
This only goes to show that the NPA guerrillas are building up an army by paying its members.
Padilla said the number of NPA guerrillas has dwindled from 25,000 during the Marcos administration to the present 4,000.
But Padilla acknowledged that the CPP-NPA has a support base of around threee million to four million.
“The support base is not armed,” he added. “The armed group is 4,000. Of course they will dispute that... They are organizing political communities, that’s the base of three million to four million. That’s still a fairly large part of the population. That’s why I say they can’t be crushed; we have to go through negotiations. But the sincerity has to be on both sides.”
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