BACOLOD CITY, April 28 (PNA) –Major General Jose Mabanta Jr., the commander of the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, issued a stern warning against political candidates who gave in to permit to campaign gimmicks of New People’s Army (NPA) this election period.
“We will not allow this (extortion activities) and we will insure that (the candidate’s) decision to give in will have legal repercussion,” Mabanta warned in a statement released on Sunday.
Mabanta also reiterated that NPA’s permit to campaign scheme is illegal and candidates should not allow the rebels to influence the outcome of the election next month.
“Candidates who are giving in to the demands are just helping the rebels to regroup and further conduct terroristic activities that victimize innocent people,” he stressed.
“We will be pressing criminal charges against those candidates who insist and we will make sure that they will be pinned down, face the consequence and be meted with appropriate penalty,” he added.
Mabanta also disclosed that they have with them a data to support that a handful political contenders in Western Visayas are extending financial assistance and/or giving in to the demands of NPA extortionists.
Early this year, reports from the Army field units state that some candidates received permit to campaign letters from the NPA.
Some of these were recovered during the apprehension of NPA top leaders in the region recently.
“Giving in to the demands is not a guarantee that the CPP-NPA will not harass the candidates anymore and be given access,” he stressed.
He added that the rebels could not be trusted since there is factious leadership on their organization.
Series of armed violence and atrocities that indiscriminately violate human rights and the International Humanitarian Law shows that CNN leadership is not in control and has no grasp of their forces anymore, he said.
The acronym CNN stands for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Mabanta further explained that “at this point, there is infighting among their (CNN) top leadership and this will ripple down to their lower levels.”
“Due to lack of support and confidence in the CNN higher level leadership, their local leaders are starting to come out in the open in order to extort and are being apprehended by the government authorities,” he added.
Since January 2013, seven CPP-NPA leaders in the region were apprehended by the joint forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police through the Regional Joint Peace and Security Coordination Center (RJPSCC) and during the Comelec-imposed gun ban checkpoint.
All of them have warrants of arrest with cases ranging from arson to murder. (PNA)