MANILA - Some 349 local officials are paying communist rebels for permits to campaign in certain areas, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Thursday.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año bared a watchlist containing names of officials allegedly providing support to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) by giving extortion money and "permit to campaign" fees.
"We now have a watchlist, we know you. So if you are supporting communist rebels, in any way, you ascertain yourself as a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the state, you establish yourself as an accomplice to their cause," Año said.
Government had earlier canceled peace negotiations with the communist movement citing continued rebel attacks on state troops. It has also labeled the rebels as terrorists.
The DILG watchlist includes 11 governors, 5 vice governors, 10 provincial board members, 55 mayors, 21 vice mayors and 41 councilors.
There are also 126 barangay captains, 50 barangay councilors, and 8 other barangay officials.
"This number is not alarming as compared to the total number of barangays in the country, but it sends a message that extortion starts at the community level, down in the grassroots," Año noted.
The DILG said Northern Mindanao has 34, Calabarzon and Mimaropa together have 26, the Davao region 22, Cagayan Valley 21, and Eastern Visayas 20 officials financing the rebels.
Western Visayas has 15 CPP-NPA supporters, while the Ilocos region and Soccsksargen have 12 each, Central Luzon 10, Metro Manila 9, Central Visayas 5, Caraga 4, the Cordillera Administrative Region 3, and the Zamboanga Peninsula 2.
Año urged the public not to vote for candidates who support or who have links with communist-terrorist groups.
“Huwag po nating suportahan ang mga gawain ng mga makakaliwa, ng mga terorista. Huwag po nating iluklok ang mga kandidatong may kaugnayan sa mga komunistang grupo,” he said.
(Let's not support the activities of those with the Left, of terrorists. Don't vote for candidates who have ties with communist groups.)