DESPITE its major setbacks — the killing of several of its top leaders and attacks on its camps — as a result of President Duterte’s intense campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), the 2022 elections will likely boost the rebels’ financial resources, sources in the intelligence committee as well as in the insurgency claimed.
Since 2001, the CPP-NPA has been demanding — extorting — money from candidates for what they call their permits to campaign (PTCs) and permits to win (PTWs) in areas of which the NPA claims to have control. Without a PTC, a candidate’s people campaigning in an area the NPA controls are either harassed or outrightly killed by the rebel group. With the more expensive PTW, on the other hand, which are undertaken in remote areas the NPA controls, it assures the candidate’s victory. (The term “permit to campaign” is derived from the widely known “permit to carry” a gun outside the owner’s home.)
It’s certainly ironic but emblematic of the communists’ depravity that they are exploiting the most important exercise of a democracy — elections — to raise money to fund their project to destroy that democracy. It certainly worsens corruption in government, especially on the local levels, as a winning candidate would recover the money extorted from him through graft.
A scholarly paper written by former CPP central committee member Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, now a Dutch academic, a few years back explained:
“PTC/PTWs has been another major source of funding for the CPP. The CPP-NPA began to collect PTC more methodically in 2001, at the very same time as Bayan Muna’s electoral debut. The rebels viewed the PTC as giving them three benefits: recognition of the revolutionary government’s authority and power, alliance-building with politicians and financial resources. PTCs could be paid either in cash or in kind (firearms, ammunition, communication equipment, computers, etc.). Those who refused to pay up were harassed, threatened or even killed.
“High levels of electoral violence, especially among rival clans of the political elite, provided a favorable atmosphere for PTC. According to NDF spokesman Madlos, the CPP-NPA earned P40 million from PTC fees in the 2001 elections. Three years later, PTC collection went nationwide and the NPA started collecting PTW fees, too. According to a top official of the Commission on Elections, the NPA raised P1.5 billion through PTC/PTW in the 2004 elections and P2 billion in 2007. He estimated that PTC/PTW collections would be anywhere between P2 to P5 billion in 2010.
A source in the intelligence committee estimated that in the 2022 elections, the party had set at P10 billion its target of PTW and PTW collections. With its other sources of funds drying up — donations of gullible European NGOs, extortion of companies with operations in remote areas and kidnappings — the money raised through PTCs and PTWs have become its major source of funds, even if it can be undertaken only once in three years.
Gen. Abelardo Villacorta, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) deputy director, in a press conference in October, said that the CPP-NPA demands P2 to P4 million from candidates for gubernatorial or congressional positions, P1 to P2 million for the vice-gubernatorial position, while city mayors are asked to give P500,000 to P1 million, and councilors from P500,000 to P800,000.
In the coming 2022 elections, there are 18,100 posts up for grabs, with 47,853 candidates for some 18,000 posts, making a P10 billion target achievable.
Villacorta said 60 percent of the collections go to the CPP national organization while the remaining 40 percent will be used locally by the NPA to fund their operations. He also revealed that the CPP-NPA-NDF will sometimes use “barangay officials as their negotiators” for extortions.
A Philippine News Agency report quoted former CPP-NPA cadre and former spokesperson for the NDF-Far South Mindanao Region (NDF-FSMR) Noel “Ka Efren” Legaspi as confirming the NICA intelligence reports, saying that the communists are asking amounts based on the positions the candidates are running for and their capacity to pay, based on their investigations.
Legaspi also revealed that the CPP-NPA-NDF have been fielding cadres as candidates every election period. He said these candidates are disguised as representatives of supposedly aggrieved sectors or mass organizations through the party-list system.
Legaspi said the CPP-NPA cadres are from the so-called “Makabayan bloc” members in the House of Representative, such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Kabataan, ACT Teachers and Gabriela. “Lahat ng nominees doon ay cadre,” Legaspi said, noting that the communists are also fielding their candidates at the local levels to penetrate the local governments and use their resources.
Gullible, naïve commentators claim that the CPP-NPA has managed to survive after 53 years because poverty and oligarch-exploitation continues in the country. That is like romanticizing the Japanese crime organization Yakuza as the modern era’s class of samurai.
The reality is of the kind their guru Karl Marx had been fond of pointing out: the economic base, or to very mundanely put it, the money. The CPP-NPA has managed to survive for five decades because it raised funds from different sources, especially when one source dries up, the latest being its PTCs and PTWs during elections.
Money hasn’t been the CPP’s problem over the decades. It’s been the lack of Filipinos wanting to join a discredited secular religion that has clearly failed. Fifty-three years after it was founded, its core leaders and believers still come from the radical student movement that raged from 1969 to 1970 and there isn’t a second generation of intelligent chiefs emerging.
But they are dropping like flies because of old age illnesses or in firefights as their reflexes and agility slow down, as the renowned veteran Menandro Villanueva, NPA overall commander and head of the party in Mindanao did last Wednesday.
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