ATC warns vs plans to sabotage elections
The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has called on the public to immediately report to concerned police or military authorities any individual or group planning to sow violence or disrupt campaign activities of local and national candidates.
Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra said groups capable of disrupting the election process are armed, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
Guevarra warned the ATC will not turn a blind eye on groups associated with CPP-NPA that will use the elections to sow violence and disturb the peace.
In a message to journalists on March 18, Guevarra clarified that supporting a candidate is not a crime per se.
“There’s nothing unlawful for any groups associated with the CPP-NPA to support any political party or individual in the forthcoming elections. It is when they commit acts of violence to sow terror and destabilize public order in the guise of exercising their political rights that will prompt the Anti-Terrorism Council to take action,” he said.
However, Guevarra said the DOJ “don’t have sufficient factual basis at this time to initiate an investigation.”
Guevarra reiterated the government’s call for any candidate or political financer not to pay permit-to-campaign fees being collected or demanded by the CPP-NPA during election period.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier issued Memorandum Circular 2019-26, which states that the permit-to-campaign fee is a clear form of extortion and is a violation of the sanctity of the right of suffrage.
Measures are also being taken to ensure that all candidates and political parties are allowed unhampered entrance to every local government unit.
Guevarra said extortion activities by the CPP-NPA from candidates usually pick up during election season.
He warned that anyone extending support to the communist group will be held liable for violating the Anti-Terrorism Financing Act of 2012 and the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.
The offenses are non-bailable and carry a penalty of life imprisonment.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the ATC on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA. – Harley F. Palangchao with reports from PNA