ILOILO City – The Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade (301IB) is happy to have not yet received reports on the New People’s Army (NPA) extortion from candidates for so-called “permit to campaign” fees in Panay Island.
Brigadier General Michael Samson, commander of the 301IB, said the rebels may have been busy hiding from the intensified operations of government troops.
“Hopefully we can sustain it and free ang aton nga election from ‘yong mga nagliligad nga mga scheme nga ginahatag nila,” Samson added.
The campaign period for Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) is from Oct. 19 to 28.
In previous elections, there were reported extortion incidents.
As such, Samson advised candidates in Panay to never give in to the extortions or alleged “permit to campaign” fees being asked by the NPA, as this could carry sanctions from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“We always warned them, but it is up to the Comelec. We will discuss with them,” Samson said when asked about the possible charges candidates may face if they gave money to the rebels.
“We are in the finishing [stages] of our efforts to end the insurgency. So kon maghatag pa, it will increase their capabilities,” Samson added.
The campaign to end insurgency and other illegal activities, according to the 301IB commander, is a whole-of-nation approach and appeals to future community leaders and the general public to report unlawful activities so appropriate actions will be taken.
“Everyone, not only candidates. Every citizen na may hatag nga report about the presence ng insurgency, mga communist or NPA sa lugar, we take action. Indi lang halin sa candidates, but any information,” Samson also said.
In Western Visayas, 148,005 candidates (89,309 male and 59,695 female) filed their certificates of candidacy for punong barangay, barangay kagawad, SK chair, and SK kagawad.
The breakdown of BSKE candidates per province:
* Aklan – 11,613
* Antique – 20,789
* Capiz – 16,957
* Guimaras – 3,601
* Iloilo – 65,405
* Negros Occidental – 29,640./PN