The communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) operating in southcentral Mindanao (Far South Mindanao Regional Operational Command) last week called on candidates for the coming May 10 elections to coordinate with rebel forces if they want to campaign in ‘rebel-held’ territories.
“It would be well for the politicos who will be campaigning with regular troops or their private armies (especially those with pending cases in the People’s Court) to coordinate with the NDF and their authorized representatives if they want access in NDF-controlled territories,” Ka Dencio Madrigal of the Valentin Palamine Command of the NPA said in a statement sent to the media.
The NDF stands for the National Democratic Front, the political umbrella of underground rebel organizations that also includes the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA.
Also in the same statement, Ka Dencio claimed four members of the Philippine Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion were reportedly slain in an encounter in Akboal, a remote hamlet in the village of Kihan in Malapatan, Sarangani last February 20.
Col. Rainer Cruz, commanding officer of the 1002nd Brigade stationed in Sarangani belied the rebel claims, however.
“There were no casualties on our side,” he said although he confirmed the skirmish.
The NDF has been maintaining the practice of issuing ‘permits to campaign’ (PTCs) for politicians and candidates during elections.
The military denounced the practice as extortion activity and warned politicians not to succumb to rebel pressure.
NDF Mindanao spokesman Jorge Madlos however said the PTCs are expressions of ‘revolutionary governance’ in territories where they exercise political power.
The PTC could amount to up to P2 million, depending on the position being sought by a candidate.
In 2007, a vice mayoral candidate in the capital town of Alabel in Sarangani was disarmed by rebel forces while campaigning in the remote villages of the said town.
The Far South Mindanao Regional Party Committee of the CPP is believed to operate five guerilla fronts in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, and portions of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Davao del Sur.
Ka Dencio is widely known as the head of the main regional guerilla unit of the NPA operating in the region.