THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has extracted P1.9 billion from private companies, the bulk of it from the country’s telecommunication (telco) firms, which explains to a large extent the survival of this armed insurgency.
The data was retrieved from memory flash drives found in the quarters of party Chairman Julius Giron — known in inner party circles as Ka Nars — who was killed last March 13 in a Baguio suburb, allegedly by a military intelligence unit supported by local police.
According to the data, “telecom” gave P1.4 billion to the CPP out of the P1.9 billion total from companies described as from the transport, manufacturing, tobacco and power industries, as well as from candidates for elective posts (“one-time deals”).
The telecom industry is a duopoly, consisting of Smart Communications Inc., mainly owned through several corporate layers by Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim and United States investors, and Globe Telecom Inc., in which the Ayala clan and Singapore Telecom are the biggest shareholders.
It is not clear for what exact time period the P1.9 billion was generated by the communists. Giron, who made the accounting, took over the party chairmanship when Benito Tiamzon was captured in 2014. He had also taken over the party’s finance commission that receives and allocates its funds. In 2016, he set up a so-called “economic strike force” to intensify its extortion — “revolutionary taxation” is the party’s euphemism — from private companies.
The disclosure of these huge funds the communists have generated from private firms, National Security Council sources claimed, is another strong argument for the Anti-Terrorism bill (the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020) , which was Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s brainchild.
Section 12 of the bill stipulates that those providing such funds (“material support” defined in Section 3) “shall be liable as principal to any and all terrorist activities committed” by terrorists or terrorist organizations.
The CPP and its New People’s Army (NPA) have already been declared terrorist organizations under Presidential Proclamation 374, series 2017, by the US State Department and the European Union Council. The proposed law penalizes terrorism or membership in a terrorist organization with life imprisonment without parole.
The Anti-Terrorism bill therefore imposes the same penalty of life imprisonment to owners of firms giving funds to the CPP, whether they were coerced to do so or not.
Firms which have been giving money to the CPP and the NPA of course do this through their lower officials — such as their security officers and lawyers — liaising with terrorists’ intermediaries. Because of the proposed law with its severe penalties, company owners and their officials would be deterred in continuing giving money to the CPP, as the penalty would be so stiff.
No wonder then that the party has launched an intense campaign against the Anti-Terrorism bill to the extent of spreading false information about it, through their organizations, even universities where they have strong party organizations, and through politicians sympathizing with their cause — like senators Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan, the only senators who voted against the Senate bill.
Source of strife
The huge funds the CPP has raised, ironically, have become a source of strife within the party, a military intelligence document claimed:
“In 2014, prior to their arrest, then-Chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria [who is the party’s chief financial officer] were being questioned by the Central Committee for the millions of undisbursed funds collected by the party from the donations under the guise of disaster response and humanitarian assistance for the victims of Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ in 2013. The couple has not justified the distribution and whereabouts of the said millions of funds causing unrest and distrust among the central leadership of the party and its rank and file.”
The report continued: “The arrest in 2014 of the Tiamzon couple was a result of the information provided by their members who were fed up [with] the corruption inside, especially on how the party leadership used the funds of the organization for personal gains. This was further validated by revelations of apprehended National Democratic Front consultants stating that indeed the couple was under investigation for malversation of funds.”
On the other hand, “while heading the party, Giron has been accused by the loyalists of the Tiamzon couple who are now occupying positions in the Central Committee. They reported that Giron facilitated the procurement of private properties, business investments and opening of bank accounts without the knowledge of Politburo members.”
I had already written back in 2018, based on claims by intelligence officials, that since the start of this decade, the telcos have capitulated to the CPP-NPA’s demands for extortion money so it would not destroy or damage their 20,000 cell towers spread all over the country, many of which are in far-flung areas too distant for the police or the military to protect.
The huge amounts the telcos have been giving the communists, now validated by information in their chairman’s documents, would explain why the insurgency has persisted.
The CPP-NPA wouldn’t last a month without substantial funds, since full-time cadres and an armed force, expensive safe-houses, ammunition and rifles require a lot of money. It’s sheer fiction that poor farmers in the countryside voluntarily finance the communists.
In the 1970s, it was the anti-Marcos oligarchs and local politicians (and the Communist Party of China until the mid-1970s) who financed the fledgling CPP-NPA. From the 1980s to 1990s, loggers, mining firms, small businesses in provinces where the CPP-NPA was strong, and, significantly, their network of both local and international nongovernment organizations were its main financiers. Contrast that to the formerly bigger insurgency, the FARC in Columbia, which until its peace settlement in 2016, drew its finances from cocaine production.
It is some quirk of history that the communists in the past several years have been mainly funded by telecom companies, whose profits are mostly generated from cellphone usage, which despite its hi-tech nature require cell-sites in far-off rural areas.
The telcos have rationalized that it is cheaper to pay the NPA than hire heavily armed private security guards, who have proven again and again to be so quick to surrender to communist terrorists.
This is of course a condemnable case of treason, as they put profits to be more important than the country’s welfare. They prefer to pay off the insurgents when they could very well afford to hire the best security personnel in the world to guard their cell-sites.
We will continue to be a pathetic weak state, the only country in Southeast Asia with an insurgency killing our soldiers and police, if we can’t even get our supposedly law-abiding businessmen to stop funding the communists.