The National Democratic Front (NDF) in North East Mindanao accused top officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of earning millions of pesos from fake New People’s Army (NPA) surrenders.
Reacting to AFP’s announcement of re-focusing its E-CLIP (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program) on some barrios in the four provinces of Caraga, the NDF said that the move will yet be a new source of corruption of millions of pesos of public funds.
“Moreover, it is also a capital for the promotion of AFP officials and their impossible dream of demonizing the (NPA) and revolutionary movement through the parading of fake-forced-to-surrenders,” NDF North Eat Mindanao spokesperson Maria Malaya said in a statement.
The NDF said that based on reports it received from various barangays and communities in the region, those impelled to surrender were promised Php65,000 each. Some of the “surrenderees”, however, only received Php5,000 while majority were left empty-handed.
“In other cases, the Php5,000 was paid in the form of ‘down payment’ for a motorcycle, and the ‘surrenderee’ is then obliged to pay in installment the total amount of Php65,000 for said motorcycle,” Malaya revealed.
Malaya accused the AFP officials of cunningly doubling their kickbacks from the E-CLIP budget and from commissions by acting as sales agents for the motorcycle companies.
Since the collapse of the formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel in November 2017, the Rodrigo Duterte government had been active in parading “NPA surrenderees” and promising them financial enticements through the E-CLIP.
Duterte himself met with hundreds of the so-called surrenderees since he ordered the termination of his government’s peace talks with the NDFP through Proclamation No. 360 in November 23, 2017.
“Look, I am addressing myself to all the soldiers of the New People’s Army. Surrender now and lay down your arms. There are jobs waiting for you and I am building, all throughout the country, almost 5,000 [houses] with at the National Housing Authority,” Duterte said in November 2017.
Shortly after, in December 2017, the government proscribed the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as terrorist groups through Duterte‘s Proclamation No. 374.
From January to May 2018, AFP claimed that a total of 7,194 NPA members and supporters have surrendered.
Former AFP chief of staff Rey Guerrero, however, clarified in February 2018, that at least 80 percent of the so-called surrenderees are non-combatants.
“Out of about a thousand, 980 are surrenderees. About 800 of them are not regular combatants. They are part of the underground organization, the political structures,” Guerrero said.
In the same period, Duterte welcomed batches of so-called surrenderees in Malacañan and reportedly gave them food packs and smart phones.
Last July 30 to early August, 88 so-called former NPA members enjoyed an all-expense-paid tour of Hong Kong in fulfilment of Duterte’s promise in December 21, 2017 that he would let the former rebels experience life in a developed country.
Duterte also promised to make rebel returnees members of the AFP and even allowed them to keep their firearms.
But not all so-called surrenderees are willing conscripts and have become regular troopers of the AFP, the NDF said.
Malaya said there are cases of fake or forced surrenderees who were compelled to enlist and undergo Citizens Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) training and were promised bigger amounts of cash after they have been presented to the media in the cities or in Malacañang.
“Only a handful was able to receive a small amount of cash. Most of them only got some kilos of rice, noodles and sardines. In short, none of them were able to receive the actual amount promised,” Malaya said.
In the case of the 96 “surrenderees” presented by the AFP’s 401st and 402nd Infantry Brigade in Surigao del Sur in November 10, 2018, AFP officers pocketed Php5.8 million, the rebel spokesperson revealed.
Malaya said that a total of Php480 million had been pocketed by AFP, police and Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) from the supposed 8,000 NPA surrenders since 2018.
“This modus by the military is hardly new, and has long been exposed as a scheme for deception and corruption by AFP officials through the E-CLIP,” she added.
Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza resigned in November 27, 2018 for reportedly failing to curb corruption at his agency following Duterte public sacking of OPAPP officials who allegedly pocketed funds for the E-CLIP and the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)