A LOCAL candidate in Masbate province was shot to death on Thursday by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, a military spokesman reported Friday.

Major Harold Cabunoc, spokesman of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (ID), said Ponciano Numeron, 50, a former policeman, was killed by at least four rebels around 4 p.m. at San Antonio village in Pasacao town allegedly for refusing to accede to the extortion demands of the communists.

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Cabunoc said Numeron was killed “for refusing to pay permit to win and permit to campaign (PTC) fees demanded by the communists. He is running for councilor in the town under Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“Numeron was visiting a community in South Ulaniban of the aforementioned barangay, to help restore the busted street lights when he was shot many times with a caliber 45 pistol, resulting to his instantaneous death,” said Cabunoc.

According to some close friends who refused to be identified, Numeron received a text message from the CPP-NPA-NDF, demanding PTC fees. As a former policeman, Numeron refused to pay extortion money despite of the grave threats he received,” added Cabunoc.

He said Numeron is the third victim of summary executions by the communists in the town this year. The number is on top of the five militiamen, a farmer and a rebel returnee executed by the rebels in the Bicol region also this year.

Cabunoc said Major General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the 9th ID, has directed the Army forces in Bicol Region to coordinate closely with the Philippine national Police and the local residents to prevent the killing spree perpetrated by the rebels.

Meanwhile, a top official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday said the NPA is projected to generate from candidates about P2 to P5 billion from their permit to campaign (PTC) and permit to win (PTW) fees this year.

Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento disclosed that the NPAs collected P1.5 billion and P2 billion during the 2004 and 2007 elections, respectively, through such extortion schemes.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which is said to be aiming to put up a communist state.

When asked what was the basis of his information, Sarmiento said: “This was a report coming from one of our reactors, Professor Rommel Banlaoi. He is the source of this information…If its true, the P2 to P5 billion is alarming.”

Banlaoi is currently the chairman of the board and the executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR). He is also the head the PIPVTR’s center for intelligence and national security studies.

The collections of the NPA in the 2004 and 2007 elections as revealed Sarmiento is contrary to a military document leaked over a couple of weeks ago. The military document said the NPAs only collected P56.71 million in the 2004 elections and P27.67 in the 2007 elections.

Sarmiento said based on the election laws, a person who resorts to coercion and intimidation can be punished by one year to six years of imprisonment.

He also said the person can be denied of the right to suffrage and disqualification to hold public office.

Sarmiento asked the politicians not to give in to the NPA’s extortion demands. “That should be included in the ongoing debates, national debates participated in by our candidates. I think this should be part of the question and answer to inform the public.”

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the 9th Infantry Division, said documents seized following encounters with the rebels should that they the communist were asking as much as P2 million from national candidates and P1 million for gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial candidates.

Pabustan said congressional candidates are asked to pay P500,000 while mayoral and vice mayoral candidates are demanded P250,000, and candidates for councilor, P50,000.

“Another document showed that for an whole lineup, they are collecting P1.5 million to P2 million. That’s all in all. That is according to the documents,” he said,.

“I’m sure the money that will be collected in the whole Bicol region will be sent to the national level of the CPP/NPA and a certain percentage will remain to them in the province to buy their firearms, ammos, and their provisions for future tactical operations against government troops,” added Pabustan. (VR/Sunnex)