‘Poll bets paid millions in NPA extortion fees’
By Jay Ruiz
MANILA, Philippines – A total of 80 local and national candidates paid millions of pesos to the communist New People’s Army for permission to campaign in rebel-infested areas, a source from the Armed Forces of the Philippines revealed Friday.
The source said intelligence information and documents seized by soldiers after encounters with the rebels showed that the politicians who paid the NPA include a presidential candidate, 9 governors, 10 congressmen and 31 mayors.
Several military officials told the Commission on Elections that the extortion of candidates is more rampant during election season. Maj. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the 9th Infantry Division, said the communist rebels are demanding 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 each, and candidates for councilor, P50,000.
“Another document showed that for a whole lineup, they are collecting P1.5 million to P2 million. That’s all in all. That is according to the documents,” he said.
Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento disclosed that the NPA collected P1.5 billion and P2 billion during the 2004 and 2007 elections, respectively, through extortion schemes.
Sarmiento said the money that the NPA stands to earn “could threaten the existence of democracy.” The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which is said to be aiming to put up a communist state.
Sarmiento urged the military to file cases against the politicians suspected of paying the NPA. He added that candidates proven guilty of paying the rebel group could be imprisoned for 1-6 years and be disqualified from running for any position in government.