BUKIDNON, Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided the house of a mayoral candidate in Surigao del Sur on Thursday, Acapril 28, and seized firearms.
The candidate, Vice Mayor Rolmar “Mamal” Basalan, is seeking the mayoral post of San Miguel town in Surigao del Sur under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, the political party of presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Basalan’s wife Gladys reported to the San Miguel Police Station that armed men barged into their house in Purok 1, Barangay Siagao in San Miguel town on April 28, and took a caliber .45 pistol and one Airsoft gun.
She told police that days before the armed men appeared in their house, the vice mayor received a call from a still-unidentified person demanding a campaign fee, but her husband declined to pay up.
In a statement released on Saturday, April 30, Ka Sandara Sidlakan, spokesperson of NPA in Surigao del Sur, said it took the NPA unit about 40 minutes to search Basalan’s house and confiscated an M16 rifle, three caliber .45 pistols, ammunition, and seven hand-held radios.
Sidlakan said Basalan went against an NPA policy during elections by allegedly having an armed group that the vice mayor tagged along with during his campaign sorties.
The armed group is allegedly composed of members of Bagulan, a cult with followers who believe that no weapon could ever harm them.
“Gigamit nya ang mga goons aron hulgaon ug hadlukon ang mga tawo mobotar sa iyaha (Basalan). Aduna usab kahimtang nga nagpabuto-buto kini sa iyang bag-ong nag-abot nga mga armas niini lamang bulan sa Abril,” Sidlakan alleged.
(He used these armed goons to threaten and intimidate the people to vote for him. He also fired his weapons when these arrived sometime in April.)
During the founding anniversary of the NPA on March 29, communist rebels warned that politicians would be punished if they bring firearms as they campaign in areas they consider NPA territories and if they coerce villagers into voting for them.
The NPA said it would also confiscate the money used if candidates engage in vote-buying.
“Magsilbi kining pahimangno ngadto sa mga nagpapili nga mga pulitiko nga dili gyud magduha-duha ang NPA sa pagpahamtang og silot kun naghatod kamo og kadaot ngadto sa katawhan aron lamang makalingkod sa gahum. Maong alang sa mga magpapili karong eleksyong 2022, kinahanglan mosubay kamo sa palisiya sa rebolusyornayong kalihukan lambigit sa eleksyon aron dili kamo mamahimong target sa mga aksyong militar niini,” Sidlakan said.
(This serves as a warning to politicians seeking to get elected that the NPA won’t think twice to punish you if you bring harm to the people just to be in power. For those who are seeking election this 2022, you should adhere to these revolutionary election policies, so you won’t be targeted for our military actions.)
The NPA unit left Basalan’s house onboard a Chariot jeepney and three pickup trucks of which one was owned by Basalan. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and awardee of Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship
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