February 12, 2019
The military were ordered to “be on the lookout” against New People’s Army (NPA) conducting extortion as the campaign period for the 2019 midterm election started Tuesday.
"(I directed the troops to) be on the lookout especially for extortionists, and there are areas declared the NPA persona non grata, definitely we want that this terrorist will not be able to do their extortion activities," Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said.
He said some areas were the NPA were declared persona non grata include "Compostela Valley and other municipalities and some barangays in eastern Mindanao area".
"We also told our troops to remain non-partisan and to make sure that our role in this political exercise is to make sure our people will be able to freely exercise their right to vote and of course to make sure that the elections will be safe, secured and orderly," he added.
Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs chief, said while providing area security troops will run after rebels who extort money from candidates.
"While we are providing area security during the campaign period, election period, at the same time we will (also) run after the NPA who are extorting money from candidates, the identified areas where armed groups are roaming around that will be one of the tasks," he said.
"Aside from securing candidates we will run after the NPAs...because they have a tendency to go down and approach politicians who are running, so that is also one way to catch them," he added.
Detoyato said the politician should also cooperate with authorities if they were approached by rebels.
"The politicians who will be contacted (by rebels) should cooperate with us. They should report if they were contacted then we will have a lead on how to entrap them (rebels)," he said.
Detoyato warned that those politicians who will give in to the extortion demand of the rebels might face charges or may be sanctioned.
"If we find proof of them paying or giving in to the extortion demands we will report them to the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and sanctions will be meted to them," he said.
"If they win, then they will be sanctioned. If they don't win, then they will have a record at Comelec and a case may also be filed against them for violation of the Revised Penal Code, (for) giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the state," he added. Robina Asido/DMS
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