Local officials and political aspirants who would be found giving money tothe Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF) may face election disqualification and terrorism charges, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya warned on Monday, Oct 11.

In a news briefing, Malaya explained that the DILG can also file cased under the “Terrorism, Financing, Prevention Supression Act of 2012’’ other wise known as Republic Act (RA) 10168 against these rogue individuals on top of the election related charges.

Under the law, Malaya explained that any personality providing financial support to terrorist groups “to facilitate the commission of any terrorist act of terrorist organization or group’’ shall be guilty of the crime of terrorism.

He added that the violation of the provisions of RA 10168 carries a prison term and fine of up to P1 million adding that there is also a breach of section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code which can render the accused with permanent disqualification to hold public office.

“Since ito po ay election offense, this is a ground for disqualification. Kahit po ang kandidato ay nakapagfile na ng COC (certificate of candidcay) nila at ito po ay tinanggap na ng Commission on Election (COMELEC) pwede pa din po silang madisqualify if that person has committed an election offense under Section 68 of the Election Code (Since this is an election offense, this is a ground for disqualification. Even if the candidate has filed their COC that was accepted by the Commission on Election, they can still be disqualified if that person has committed an election offense under Section 68 of the Election Code),’’ Malaya said.

Malaya who is also the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson on Local Government Affairs and Barangay Development Program stressed that committing acts of terrorism to enhance a political aspirant’s candidacy, soliciting, receiving or making prohibitted contributions are election offenses among others.

He noted that in 2019, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año signed Memorandum Circular (MC) 2019-26 urging the candidates in that year’s election not to give extortion money since this is a violation of the “Right to Suffrage.’’

“Binabalaan po namin ang lahat ng (election) kandidato na kung mayroon pong matatanggap na ebidensiya ang DILG na sila ay sumusuporta sa mga CPP-NPA, sila po ay hahabulin namin at magfifile po kami ng disqualification (cases) sa kanila (We are warning all candidates that we will run after them and file disqualification charges if the DILG’s pieces of evidence point to their support to the CPP-NPA),’’ he added.

He emphasized that these election offenses are permanent disqualification to hold public office not only for this election period.

Malaya also appealed to the LGUs to ensure the safety of the candidates and their unhampered entry to every locality to launch their respective propaganda during the campaign period in the coming election.

With this, Malaya insisted that there is no need for a political aspirant to pay “campaign permit’’ and “permit to win’’ to entice the electorate to vote in his favor stressing that “they have to be given access to the electorate during the campaign period without intimidation and manipulation from the CTGs (communist terrorist groups).’’

Last year the DILG filed a case against a provincial board member of the fourth district of Quezon province for coddling in her own residence in Atimonan two NPA members who Malaya identified as “Ka Baste and Ka Oyo Miles.’’

In a statement last year, the DILG revealed that the NPA members were nabbed inside the residence of board member Rhodora Tan in barangay Zone 3, Poblacion on December 26, 2020.

Ka Baste also known as Ruel Custodio is a finance officer of the Sub-Regional Military Area-4 of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee while Ruben Istokado who goes by the name of Ka Oyo Miles is a political instructor of L1, KP1 of the Bicol Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA.

While the number of LGUs declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army as persona non grata are increasing, Año noted that it is disappointing to encounter a handful of public officials who covertly support, directly or indirectly, the cause of communist terrorist groups.

In the same briefing, Malaya expressed elation over the report of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Deputy Director General for Special Concerns that only 63 officials were monitored in the 2019 to have given extortion money to the CTGs which is less than the 349 officials who gave in to the financial demands of the terrorists in the 2016 campaign period.

Malaya said the DILG’s target is to have “ zero’’ officials giving extortion money to the terrorist groups adding that 1,436 out of the 1,716 LGUs in the country have declared the CPP-NPA as persona non grata.

The DILG will also monitor the 63 local officials who gave extortion money demands of the CPP-NPA in the 2019 elections vowing to file cases against them if found to still providing support to the terrorist groups. (Chito A. Chavez)