By Aaron Reccuenco
A total of 349 incumbent and re-electionist local officials are on the government’s watchlist of politicians who are allegedly in cahoots with the communist rebels either by paying permit to campaign fees or in constant coordination with the New People’s Army (NPA).
But Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año would not name the politicians, as he admitted that what they have are based on intelligence reports that are not sufficient to pin down the local politicians on their list.
“We now hold a watchlist of local chief executives from governor down to the barangay councilors who are allegedly supporting communist terrorist group by giving them extortion money,” said Año in a press briefing at Camp Crame.
A total of 349 local officials from all the regions of the country are also purportedly involved in the activity,” he added.
According to Año, there are 11 governors and five vice governors in their list. A total of 10 incumbent congressmen and a former congressman are also in the list.
A total of 55 mayors, 21 vice mayors, and 41 councilors are also in the list.
On the other hand, a total of 176 barangay officials are also included.
Año said their watchlist was based on the intelligence reports during the 2016 presidential elections and 2018 barangay elections.
“Most of these officials are in Bicol, Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), Region 11 (Davao Region), and Region 2 (Cagayan Valley Region),” said Año.
The DILG watchlist contains the names of the local officials, but Año declined the reveal it.
Año warned these local politicians, particularly the candidates, to refrain from even yielding to the extortion demand of the communist rebels.
“Just to reiterate to our candidates, if you pay permit to campaign fees to these illicit groups, you are ascertaining yourself as an accomplice to their cause,” said Año.
“If you pay them, you automatically establish yourself as a supporter of the communist terrorist group and an enemy of the government,” he warned.
But in the absence of strong pieces of evidence against those in the list, Año called on the public to help the government establish a strong case against them.
Quoting military intelligence report, Año said the communist rebels had raked in P194.5 million during the 2016 presidential and 2018 barangay elections.
Año is a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and had served as the top military spy chief.