INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año revealed on Thursday, February 21, that more than 300 government officials have been supporting the communists by paying for the so-called permit-to-campaign fees.
Citing intelligence reports, Año said a total of 349 local and national government officials were involved.
But he admitted that they have no sufficient evidence against these officials.
He urged local government officials to stop paying these fees and the so-called revolutionary tax to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People's Army (NPA).
He also urged voters not to vote for left-leaning candidates and those known to have been supporting the communists.
Of the 349 officials, Año said 11 are provincial governors; five vice governors; 10 provincial board members; 55 mayors; 21 vice mayors; 41 councilors; 126 barangay captains; 50 barangay councilors; and eight barangay officials.
The list also includes 11 former local government unit (LGU) officials, 10 incumbent congressman and one former congressman.
“Iyon 349 na tao na nagbibigay ng pera sa mga terorista kaya naman patuloy silang nakakapag-operate (These 349 officials have been giving money to the terrorists). Can you just imagine that? Our own government officials giving funds to the enemy," Año said.
"This number is not alarming as compared to the total number of barangays in the country, but it sends a message that extortion starts at the community level, down in the grass roots. We cannot win the war against terrorism if these local officials continue funding the very source of terrorism in the first place," he added.
Some 154 officials, or 44 percent, are from Bicol. Other officials are from the following: Northern Mindanao, 34 officials; Calabarzon, 26; Davao, 22; Cagayan Valley, 21; Eastern Visayas, 20; Western Visayas, 15; Ilocos, 12; Soccsksargen, 12; Central Luzon, 10; National Capital Region, 9; Central Visayas, 5; Caraga, 4; Cordillera, 3; and Zamboanga Peninsula, 2.
Año said that in the 2016 presidential elections and 2018 barangay and SK elections, the CPP-NPA collected a total of P195.5 million from their various extortion activities nationwide.
He said the communists collect P300,000 to P650,000 from governors and vice governors; P200,000 to P500,000 from mayors; and P50,000 to P100,000 from barangay officials.
Año urged local government officials to stop giving in to the demand of the communist rebels as it violates the law.
He encouraged the officials to instead report to and work with local authorities, especially the police and military units in their respective areas, if they are being harassed or forced by the communists to pay revolutionary tax or other form of financial aid.
“You do not need them to win nor to campaign. What you need is a robust platform and a desire to serve the people within your jurisdiction," he said.
Año urged the public not to vote for candidates who continue to give support to the leftist group.
“Huwag po nating suportahan ang mga gawain ng mga makakaliwa, ng mga terorista, ng mga CTGs (communist terrorist group). Huwag po nating iluklok ang mga kandidatong may kaugnayan sa mga komunistang grupo.,” he said.
“Maging sa lokal na pamahalaan man, sa senado, kongreso at maging mga partylist groups na makakaliwa (leftist groups). Sa ganitong paraan po ay nakatulong tayo sa pagsugpo sa komunismo/terorismo tungo sa totoong pangmatagalan kapayapaan sa bansa,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)