By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
With the election season drawing near, the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) is appealing to local politicians in Negros Occidental to avoid giving money to armed groups once the campaign period starts.
Major General Benedict Arevalo, newly-installed commander of the 3ID, said those who are planning to run in the upcoming elections must not give money to armed groups, particularly the New People’s Army (NPA) which is believed to ask politicians to pay a “campaign fee” in order for them to gain access to rebel-infested areas.
Arevalo said politicians who are approached by armed groups should immediately contact them or the police so they could immediately act on the matter.
He pointed out the money being given to the rebels could then be used to buy what they need, especially firearms, ammunition and explosives.
The Philippine Army in Negros Occidental has also warned in the past that any politicians who are caught paying campaign fees to the rebels can be charged for violating Republic Act 10168, or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.
During the previous elections, the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade had monitored several politicians in the province who have allegedly given either money or other types of assistance to the rebels, however, they have refused to identify the individuals.
It is widely known in Negros Occidental that armed groups are asking money to politicians in order for them to safely campaign in the far-flung areas of the province./DGB, WDJ