‘This is an election practice that has been with Philippine society for a couple of decades now but the government is just too inefficient or lazy or both to do anything substantial to arrest it.’
THE National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) is an office of the government that is seldom heard, and with good reason. Effective intelligence capability is best kept in secrecy, so that matters of national security are seldom discussed in public.
It is thus a rare occasion that the NICA, particularly its deputy director general, Abelardo Villacorta, would issue a detailed report on a particular subject. We refer to the collection of so-called revolutionary taxes by the rebel New People’s Army (NPA), the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). In this election campaign season, the NPA is expected to ramp up its “tax collection” especially in areas where it is strong.
Villacorta said the rebel communist army amassed “tens of millions of pesos” during elections through its extortion activities. He cited “intelligence reports” obtained by the agency that revealed that communist rebels collected millions of pesos from politicians who wished to campaign in towns and cities where the rebels have some degree of political influence.
Villacorta reported that candidates for governor or congressional positions had to pay around P2 million to P4 million to the rebels while those running for vice governor had to shell out P1 million to P2 million.
Meanwhile, those seeking election as mayor or provincial board member had to pay P500,000 to P1 million while those eyeing councilor positions must pay P300,000 to P500,000.
The NICA official said that 60 percent of the collection “goes to the CPP Central Committee while the remaining 40 percent goes to the local NPA unit for their upkeep and operations.”
What is more concerning in Villacorta’s report is that in the case of national officials, from the President, Vice President, senators and congressmen, the NPAs are also dipping their fingers in the campaign pie. A former spokesman of the CPP Far South Mindanao Region revealed that the group imposes rates to be paid by each candidate, based on the positions they are seeking.
The NICA source said the rates for congressional and gubernatorial candidates range from P1.5 million to P3 million, candidates for mayors from P1 million to P2 million, and candidates for councilors with P20,000 to P100,000. The rebels also demand various items such as firearms, combat boots, uniforms, generators, cell phones, laptops, etc. In return, these politicians receive “permit to campaign” or “permit to win” from the rebels, which are of course spurious but the candidates accept just the same.
This is an election practice that has been with Philippine society for a couple of decades now but the government is just too inefficient or lazy or both to do anything substantial to arrest it. With its details and recommendations, the Villacorta report should prod the government to end this election campaign evil that compromises our democracy.