By Philippine News Agency
BRUSSELS, Belgium – As the government takes its war against communist terrorists a step further, the National Task Force was assured by European officials that it would look into the reported funding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) by Belgium and other EU-member countries.
In a series of engagements with officials of the European Union (EU), the European Parliament, and the European Commission (EC), the Philippine delegation requested to “stop the flow of funds to identified communist terrorist front organizations.”
Data presented by the Philippine delegation showed that communist front organizations receive funds from the Belgian government and some European countries in the guise of marginalized and pro-poor programs.
Documents obtained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also revealed that the Belgian government has released its first tranche of more than 621,000 Euros (P36,663,840) out of the 15-million Euro (P885,600,000) grant to some non-government organizations for the 2017-2021 program.
This year, some 1.3 million Euros (P76,752,000) are expected to be released.
According to Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, the communist terrorist groups hide behind legitimate organizations.
The military has identified seven recipient organizations based on documents from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, excluding those from other European countries.
“We bring this to the EU as one of our major concerns and we seek your cooperation for the sake of our people by helping us stop the flow of funds,” said Alex Paul Monteagudo, Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Parlade said the information about the EU and Belgian government unwittingly funding organizations affiliated with the CPP and NewPeople’s Army (NPA), came from EU and the Belgian government themselves.
“Many of these money was channeled by these NGOs to other organizations whose only objective is to portray President (Rodrigo) Duterte as a tyrant and his administration as oppressive,” he added.
“What we wanted the EU and UN (United Nations) to also know is that the CPP and its front organizations, like Karapatan, are consistent and persistent in providing UN and European governments with all these false data,” Parlade added.
Monteagudo said what is even more appalling is that funding countries are not aware of the multiple funding scheme that communist terrorist front organizations employ.
Multiple funding, he added, refers to a project wherein communist front organizations would solicit simultaneously for funds from three or four different agencies or countries. It would be a fortune if these funding agencies approve their requests because it would allow them to undertake the legitimate programs and still have extra money to spend for anti-government activities.
“This is the revelation of surrendered communists who said that on the average, they are able to divert 60 percent of funds to the communist party, which uses the money to support their activities, such as rallies, armed activities, purchase of weapons and ammunition, and terrorizing and killing of Filipinos,” he said.
These front organizations, Monteagudo said, have mastered the art of sourcing and diverting funds to buy weapons and train children to become warriors in their alleged schools.
“They focus on the indigenous people because they are vulnerable and entrust their children to these schools,” he added.
Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism coordinator, vowed to look into the information very seriously and develop a more intense cooperation.
He said he will talk with his colleagues in the European Commission and conduct an independent financial audit.
“You can be assured that we will monitor the country’s expenditures and donors who may have given to the organizations for the same activity,” de Kerchove added. “We will share with you the outcome of (the) external audit.”
De Kerchove expressed concern about terrorist financing and that the level of threat remains serious, saying it can happen anytime, like what happened in the Jolo church bombing.
“Some terror groups are re-emerging like al-Qaeda, persisting propaganda that can easily seduce (the) young. There is no reason to be complacent,” he said.
He added that the EU has posted counter terror experts to its Jakarta delegation to enhance security in ASEAN and other states.
“We hope to send our colleague to the Philippines who will reach out to you soon. We are eager to explore with the Philippines to maximize efforts,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gunnar Weigand, Managing Director of European External Action Service and European Commission South East Division of Development and Cooperation (DEVCO), promised to conduct an independent financial audit this month.
“It is important that the taxpayers’ money is well spent. We take concerns seriously,” Weigand said.
He requested the Philippine delegation to provide any information at the soonest possible time so that they can inform auditors of what to look into.
“We share the same challenges. We have done it in the last two years and we will do more,” he added.
As the EU tries to engage countries faced with terrorism, mainly in Asia, Weigand promised to channel to their different networks the information presented by the Philippine delegation.
“They (communist front organizations) should not be able to collect money in any way. We will talk to the people in charge,” he said.
Weigand also echoed de Kerchove’s promise to task the security attache in Indonesia to look into the communist funding information.
European Parliament member Peter Kouroumbashev also vowed to make an alarm of the information and conduct an investigation of the funds.
The Philippine delegation expressed optimism for a productive European engagement, saying that so long as the funding continues to pour into these front organizations, the CPP-NPA will have the capability to sustain their terror activities.
“We look at communist terrorists in the same manner as other terror groups. If we have to win the war against terrorism, we have to share information,” Monteagudo added.