Pay for permit to campaign, Reds tell candidates

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Candidates in next year’s general elections should set aside funds if they wish to campaign in rebel-held territories, the National Democratic Front (NDF) said Saturday, December 26.

Speaking on the occasion of the 47th foundation of the Communist Party of the Philippines, NDF Far South Mindanao spokesman "Ka Efren" said the permit to campaign (PTC) will give candidates access to rebel strongholds and to assert rebel authority in areas where “organs of political power” already exist.

In many areas in Mindanao and throughout the country, Ka Efren said they have established “parallel” governments and claimed they have earned the right to impose fees and other “revolutionary taxes".

Ka Efren declined to give “tariffs” of rebel PTCs, but candidates for provincial governors in Mindanao are said to have paid up to P1 million in past elections.

Candidates for senators in previous elections are also said to have contributed considerable amounts to the coffers of the Maoist-inspired rebel movement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had earlier warned candidates against succumbing to the extortion activities of the communist rebels.

Increased rebel strength

Ka Efren meanwhile said the rebels in Far South Mindanao were able to form more new platoons. “We have increased our armed strength by 20%,” he said without disclosing the exact figure of their total armed strength.

From only 3 guerrilla fronts 5 years ago, Ka Efren said they now have 3 sub-regional committees, each with 3 to 5 guerrilla fronts.

A guerrilla front has at least one company of fully armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, the armed wing of the CPP.

He added that they were able to launch more than 70 tactical offensives resulting in the slaying of AFP troops equaling close to a company of soldiers. Each AFP company has at least 120 elements.

NDF Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos earlier said there are now 46 guerrilla fronts throughout Mindanao – up by 6 from last year’s total.

Madlos said this forced the AFP to deploy 60% of its combat units in Mindanao.

The CPP-NPA is strongest in the Davao and Caraga regions while also showing increased guerrilla activities in northern and central Mindanao and the Socsksargen area.

The CPP was re-established on December 26, 1968 when the breakaway faction led by University of the Philippines professor Jose Maria Sison repudiated the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas headed by Luis Taruc and Jose Lava.

Three months later, the CPP established the NPA.

From a ragtag guerrilla army with 35 vintage rifles, the communist-led NPA has expanded nationwide and is operating in at least 70 of the country’s 82 provinces. The AFP, however, claims it has reduced the armed strength of the NPA from a high of 20,000 in the 1980s to less than 4,000.

The CPP has been mum on the exact number of its guerrilla army, but former CPP chairman Jose Maria Sison said the NPA has regained the strength it lost during the 1990s.

At its height, the CPP-NPA and its political arm were said to have 8,000 fully armed guerrillas. – Rappler.com