The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has warned candidates in the May 9 national and local elections that they risk disqualification if they collaborated with communist terrorist groups (CTGs) by paying the so-called permit to win (PTW) and (permit to campaign) fees imposed by the communist rebel movement.
In a statement released on Monday, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., National Security Adviser and Vice-Chairman of the NTF-ELCAC, hailed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for ensuring that conduct of clean, honest, and peaceful elections by keeping the communist rebels from interfering in the electoral processes.
“The Comelec has spoken. The PTW and PTC extortion schemes of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) and their allied front organizations are prohibited,
outlawed, and illegal,” Esperon said.
He added that the CPP-NPA-NDF “has no place in our electoral processes. These terrorists must not be allowed to interfere in the Filipino people’s right to suffrage or to capitalize on the elections in order to sabotage the government from within.”
Esperon pointed out that any candidate in the national and local elections who would pay for the PTW and the PTC to the CPP-NPA-NDF and their front organizations “commit the highest form of betrayal against the Filipino people, of the public trust, and of our constitution,” and is a ground for disqualification.
He explained that such payment “tarnishes the memory of all those who have perished in the struggle of the Filipino people against the reign of terror and violence waged by the CPP-NPA-NDF.”
COMELEC Resolution No. 22-0179 deemed these acts of the CTGs as vote-buying and voter coercion, election offenses that are penalized under Section 261 (a) and (e) of the Omnibus Election Code.
The COMELEC explained in the resolution that the act of paying the PTW and PTC fees to the CPP-NPA-NDF is an act of vote-buying on the part of the candidate, a ground for the disqualification pursuant to Section 68 (a) and (b) of the Omnibus Election Code.
If such a candidate has been elected, the COMELEC resolution stated that the candidate may be disqualified from holding office. On the other hand, the CPP-NPA-NDF may be held liable for vote-selling aside from the fact that such acts of extortion are tantamount to terrorism.
While assuring the public of the NTF-ELCAC’s “commitment to uphold the rule of law” during the elections, Esperon said the government believes that the CPP-NPA-NDF and their allied front organizations are “coming to an end.”
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.