THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has obtained evidence that the Community Empowerment Resource Network (Cernet), a non-governmental organization, violated Republic Act 10168, also known as The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, by acting as a financial conduit for the New People's Army, a Communist Terrorist Group.
On May 23, 2023, the AFP Visayas Command filed a case through the 302nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and the Police Regional Office 7 against Cernet, which is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-stock, non-profit organization with headquarters in Cebu City.
Brigadier General Joey Escanillas, the Commander of the 302nd Brigade, stated at a press conference called by the Visayas Command on Thursday, September 28, 2023, that although the legal front organization has been developing programs for farmers or the poor community groups with funding from a foreign organization, 60 percent of it will go to the NPA for their operations in the Negros Islands and other areas of the Eastern Visayas.
Escanillas disclosed that based on their calculations, Cernet has raised more than P300 million since 2012, but only a small percentage of that amount has gone to the underprivileged because the organization’s primary beneficiaries are the terrorists.
"This terrorist group’s strategy has evolved. They used development workers from the created NGO as their front to help the marginalized sectors address their issues. The NGO then make project proposals addressed to various international foundations," Escanillas said.
Up to 27 people have been named as defendants in the lawsuits, including well-known human rights lawyer in Cebu City and the Farmers Development Center (Fardec), a group that advocates for farmers.
The NPA's ability to recruit new members and purchase weapons and ammunition to use against the military would be significantly impacted and the financial backing of a foreign organization would be terminated if the case were to be completely brought in court.
Police Colonel Ehdel Pereira, the head of the Regional Legal Office for the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO 7), claimed that they were the ones who prepared the documents that will be presented to the court.
In addition to Cernet, another people's organization is set to be sued after it was discovered that it also provided financial support to the communist group operating in the Visayas region. (AYB, TPT)