ILOILO City – At least 15 winners in the recent midterm elections in Iloilo and Capiz provinces may be charged with violating Republic Act (RA) 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012. They gave money to the New People’s Army (NPA) during the campaign period, according to the Philippine Army.
The 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) monitored 37 candidates who financially supported the NPA, according to Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, battalion commander.
Fifteen of these candidates won either as mayors or members of the Sangguniang Bayan in Iloilo and Capiz, said Batara, but “15 is still a running number” because there were more elected officials suspected to be supporting the rebels, citing reports from other government agencies.
“For the past months, there were candidates consistently monitored to have been giving support to the NPA, including some candidates who gave in on the rebels’ ‘permit to win’ and ‘permit to campaign’ (fees),” Batara said.
The communist rebels demanded money from candidates prior to entering supposedly rebel-influenced areas to campaign.
“We continue our monitoring of these officials and if we have gathered enough concrete evidence, there would be appropriate charges to be filed against them,” Batara said.
Under RA 10168, terrorism is considered inimical and dangerous to the country’s national security. Terrorism is, thus, condemned, including those who support and finance acts of terrorism.
The same law further criminalizes the financing of terrorism. In particular, it freezes and forfeits the property or funds of those designated terrorists or terrorist organizations. This is done in order to prevent and suppress terrorist activities.
Under Section 4 of RA 10168, persons found guilty of terrorist financing “shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua” and be made to pay a fine of not less than P500,000 nor more than P1 million.
Furthermore, Batara said, local government units (LGUs), particularly the local chief executives, should spearhead efforts to end the insurgency problem.
He appreciated the move of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) in submitting a letter to the Sangguniang Panlungsod and recommending the declaration of the NPA as persona non grata.
“It is included in our line of efforts, our line of actions. We also encourage other LGUs to do the same,” said Batara, adding that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had been incessantly urging the declaration of NPAs as persona non grata in all municipalities.
Declaring the NPA as such means “containing the rebels in other definite areas,” he said. “It means they are not welcome in a certain place. NPA (rebels) are mobile and can go anywhere even in the city.”
“But the best way is for all municipalities and the entire province of Iloilo to declare the rebels as persona non grata because it connotes unity, that we are solid in our stand against the rebels.”
The United States and European Union have labeled the NPA and its political body, the Communist Party of the Philippines, as an international terror organization. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)