The European Union has said an external company would be auditing EU’s grants to non-government organizations in the Philippines that were allegedly funneled to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
READ: Euro NGOs hit for funding Reds
“The EU now will verify and evaluate these documents. A financial audit by an external company is due to be conducted in April,” the EU Delegation in Manila said in a statement.
The Philippine government on March 28 submitted documents and pieces of evidence to EU Program Manager on Governance Louis Dey and Belgian Ambassador Michel Goffin, asking the two parties to “immediately cease” the release of funds.
In a related development:
• A New People’s Army top commander of the Pulang Bagani Command-2 and his vice commander operating in Eastern Mindanao were presented to President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio following their surrender to the military last Thursday.
NPA commanders “Bong” and “Igong” met the local chief executive shortly after the change of command rites inside the 103rd Infantry Brigade at Purok 9, Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan District in Davao City.
In her short dialogue with the two leaders, Carpio informed them of their free access to government programs.
Allegations to be verified
The EU has yet to verify the allegations as it noted that the NGO
concerned was registered and continued to operate legally in the Philippines.
“Should the allegations be established, the EU immediately would take full legal action,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Belgium embassy in Manila said it was taking the claim seriously and had immediately started investigating the matter, together with European authorities.
“The funding of non-governmental organizations is subject to strong legal requirements under Belgian law. Should these abuses be established, the Belgian government will not hesitate to stop its support and to seek to recover the amounts already disbursed,” Goffin said in a statement.
The bloc underscored that CPP and the NPA were recognized by the EU as terrorist groups, which means that no asset could be held in EU by these organizations.
In Manila, Malacañang said the EU should cease its funding to the groups alleged to be acting as legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo agreed with the move of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. formally asking the EU to stop financing alleged communists-linked groups
“The EU should [cease its funding]. The funding would [only] be used in destabilizing the government,” Panelo told reporters on Friday.
“If these are legal [communist] fronts and their main purpose is to break down the government, then the EU should reconsider [funding them].”
READ: ‘Stop funding Red fronts’
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue gathering information on the alleged ‘front groups’ of the CPP-NPA.
AFP public affairs office chief Noel Detoyato told PNA on Friday: “The AFP will continue gathering information to unearth hidden or embedded organizations in the identified fronts as mentioned in the documents submitted to EU.”
He said: “The AFP will continue supporting this endeavor to cut off the foreign funds that is being squandered by the recipient front organizations by funneling it to fund the armed groups and other effort(s) to subvert the Philippine government.”
Running out of cadres
A military official, meanwhile, said the communist rebels’ defeat in Victoria, Northern Samar, on Thursday, where three insurgents were killed and another was captured, indicated that the revolutionary movement was running out of cadres capable of fighting a war.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday National Democratic Front consultant Francisco Fernandez and his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, were being given full medical attention following their arrest on March 24 in Liliw, Laguna.
In a letter to EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, Esperon warned the EU that funds were being used “to propagate terrorism” through international alliances and networks.
He claimed that communist-linked groups were using the funds to finance the recruitment, trafficking and exploitation of children to become child warriors.
He said EU funds were being used “to recruit and exploit vulnerable sectors such as indigenous people, the systematic destruction of the latter’s culture and value system and the murder of their leaders.”
Esperon said three Belgian non-government organizations such as SOLIDAGRO, Viva Salud and KIYO had “indirectly and unwittingly partnered” with NGOs here that he claimed to be acting as legal fronts of the CPP-NPA.
Esperon then tagged 10 groups that supposedly received the funds: the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, IBON Foundation, Karapatan, Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc., the Alliance of Health Workers, the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela and ACT.
Some of these groups, however, had previously rejected Esperon’s claim.
The Davao City executive encouraged the two former NPA leaders to reveal their motives and concerns for joining the armed group so the City Government could address and attend to them.
The two NPA leaders handed their two M16 rifles, a cal. 45 pistol and one 9mm Glock pistol to military officials led by Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command.
Both NPA commanders surrendered to the 3rd Infantry Battalion after their group figured in fierce encounter with troops last March 22.
Shortly after yielding to the military, the two underwent debriefing where they revealed a supposed armory of their comrades leading to the discovery of an M14 rifles and six M16 rifles.
Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the surrender of Bong and Igong came after troops under Lt. Col Oscar Partuza were validating reports on the presence of NPAs in Barangay Tambobong, Baguio District, Davao City.
In the process, a five-minute gunfight ensued with a rebel band resulting to the deathof one NPA and the capture of one M16 rifle and a ca. 45 pistol.
Lt. Gen. Santos reiterated his call to the NPAs to surrender and for other stakeholders to assist in facilitating them.
“With the help of our different stakeholders who are always there to help, come down and avail (yourselves) of the social reform program of the government for you to rejoin the mainstream,” Lt. Gen. Santos said.
“The surrender is proof that the NPAs are now losing not only regular members but also leaders,” he added. With PNA and Francisco Tuyay