The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today warned all candidates running in the 2022 national and local elections not to pay extortion money or the so-called “permit to campaign fees” to the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's' Army (CPP-NPA-NDF) otherwise it will actively seek their disqualification even if they already filed their certificates of candidacy.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año reminded all candidates of Memorandum Circular 2019-26 which calls this modus operandi as a "clear form of extortion and defilement of the sanctity of the right to suffrage."
“Huwag po tayong magpaloko at matakot. Ang ibabayad n’yong extortion money sa mga komunista ay gagamitin din nila para makapaghasik ng terorismo sa bansa," he adds.
According to the said directive, Año enjoins local government units (LGUs) and the Philippine National Police to ensure that all candidates are allowed unhampered entrance in every LGU and guarantee peace and order in all areas especially those considered as hotspots for insurgency.
“All local officials should steer clear of directly or indirectly giving financial, material and political support to the CPP-NPA since this is a clear violation of law. This is something that the DILG under my leadership will never tolerate,” he said.
LGUs are also directed to ensure that all citizens desiring to exercise their right to suffrage are allowed and encouraged and their rights are protected when participating in political assemblies and meetings and in the dissemination and receipt of information of any and all election-related matters.
"We must secure all candidates and political parties and ensure that they are given access to the electorate during the campaign period without intimidation and manipulation from communist terrorist groups," he said.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the DILG is committed in filing disqualification cases against candidates who will be proven to have supported and cooperated with the CPP/NPA/NDF.
“Supporting communist terrorist groups through financing or other means is an election offense and is sufficient to cause the disqualification of a candidate,” said Malaya.
"We will follow through on our words, those politicians who will be proven as accomplices of the CPP-NPA will face disqualification cases from the DILG,” he said.
In 2018, the DILG divulged a watchlist containing 349 local government officials who were identified to have ties and are supporting the CPP-NPA by means of extortion money in the 2016 polls.
“We are glad that in the 2019 elections, only 63 local officials were reported by our intelligence sources as having supported the CPP/NPA. This is a clear victory for our whole-of-nation approach against the CTGs,” he said.
The DILG has directed the Philippine National Police to closely monitor the 63 local government officials who are associated with the CPP-NPA and other candidates running in the coming elections who have plans of supporting the communist terrorist group.
Section 4 of Republic Act 10168 known as 'The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012' states that any person who finances terrorist groups to carry out or facilitate the commission of any terrorist act, by a terrorist organization, association or group, or by an individual terrorist, shall be guilty of the crime of financing terrorism.
He said that under RA 10168, the crime of financing terrorism is punishable by the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000) to not more than One million pesos (Php1,000,000).
Such is also punishable under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines which can render the accused "permanent disqualification to hold public office" with imprisonment of one to six years.