By Robie de Guzman | UNTV News
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday warned all candidates in the 2022 national and local elections against paying the so-called permit to campaign fees to the communist rebels.
In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año reminded candidates of the Memorandum Circular 2019-26, which calls this modus operandi as a “clear form of extortion and defilement of the sanctity of the right to suffrage.”
“Huwag po tayong magpaloko at matakot. Ang ibabayad n’yong extortion money sa mga komunista ay gagamitin din nila para makapaghasik ng terorismo sa bansa,” he adds.
In the said directive, Año enjoined local government units (LGUs) and the Philippine National Police to ensure that all candidates are allowed unhampered entrance in every LGU and guarantee peace and order in all areas especially those considered as hotspots for insurgency.
“All local officials should steer clear of directly or indirectly giving financial, material and political support to the CPP-NPA since this is a clear violation of law. This is something that the DILG under my leadership will never tolerate,” he said.
LGUs are also directed to ensure that all citizens desiring to exercise their right to suffrage are allowed and encouraged, and their rights are protected when participating in political assemblies and meetings and in the dissemination and receipt of information of any and all election-related matters.
“We must secure all candidates and political parties and ensure that they are given access to the electorate during the campaign period without intimidation and manipulation from communist terrorist groups,” he said.
The DILG said it will file disqualification cases against candidates who will be proven to have supported and cooperated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
“Supporting communist terrorist groups through financing or other means is an election offense and is sufficient to cause the disqualification of a candidate,” DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in the same statement.
“We will follow through on our words, those politicians who will be proven as accomplices of the CPP-NPA will face disqualification cases from the DILG,” he said.
The DILG also cited Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) 10168 known as ‘The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012’, which states that any person who finances terrorist groups to carry out or facilitate the commission of any terrorist act, by a terrorist organization, association or group, or by an individual terrorist, shall be guilty of the crime of financing terrorism.
Malaya said that under RA 10168, the crime of financing terrorism is punishable by the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) to not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000).
Such is also punishable under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines which can render the accused “permanent disqualification to hold public office” with imprisonment of one to six years, he added.