The Provincial Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) released on Monday a list of alleged supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan that included members of the local clergy.
In a press conference by the task force, Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Adm. Rene Medina said documents recovered from the arrested NPA suspects bear the names of companies and local government officials who are supposedly supporting them.
Among those included are Fr. Armando Limsa, leader of Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (Natripal), Fr. Joseph Cacacha, leader of Aldaw, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastor Elena Del Valle, and Fr. Jasper Lahan of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa-Social Action Center (AVPP-SAC).
Medina said they have decided to release the names so they can verify their alleged involvement.
“Hindi rin namin alam kung talagang totoong [supporters] or ano, pero based on these documents, we have agreed na we have to check also kaya pinakita rin natin,” Medina said.
He urged those in the list to present themselves to authorities and clear their names.
“Kung sa palagay nila ay hindi talaga sila kakampi or talagang affiliated sa Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA, puwede naman silang pumunta sa amin para i-declare nila,” he added.
Medina said no one has come to the WESCOM or the PTF-ELCAC to clarify because they had just come out with the list.
“Wala pa kasi ngayon lang namin nailabas ‘yong pangalan. If you have noticed noong previous two weeks, meron kaming pinalabas na name ng organizations lang, pero ‘yong pangalan ng mga contact persons ay wala pa,” Medina said.
Based on the data presented by the provincial ELCAC to the media, the alleged names of companies and individuals are:
* Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya): Fernando Buante, Annalie Delos Santos, Bebit Vargas, and Julieta Vargas (coordinator of Pamalakaya and Gabriela).
* Pinag-isang Lakas ng Okupante, Residente, Manggagawa, Magsasaka at Mangingisda (PLLORM): Norly Bernabe, Wilson Francisco, Gina Cahilig Buo, Donna Mae Cario, Jocelyn Bernabe, Teresita Paala, Antonio Daquila, Darwin Escala, Minda Mosico, Amado Enrico, Rudy Cleto, Jaime Alcantara, Bert Tumbucon, Emily Giray, Gerry Matulac, Melinda Bernabe, and Atty. Jobert Pahilda as legal counsel.
These two organizations are allegedly operating in Taytay in northern Palawan.
* Norly Bernabe, chairman of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Anak Pawis-Palawan.
* Pesante Coron members Desiree Francisco, the provincial secretary; Eduardo Fernando, leader in Decalachao Chapter; Ronald Alicabo, Remedios Palanca, Sonio Calanza, and Stephen Vigno.
* Haniboy Cabdida Cadimas as president, Jose Mencio Baldado as vice president, and Rolando Cortes as secretary of BFLA.
* Zenaida Gordal as secretary general and Anna De Jesus as local coordinator of Gabriela Palawan.
* Perla Palacio of Karapatan-Palawan, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) headed by Absie Eligio and CEDG Nathaniel Cadiao Jr.
* Gabriela Youth headed by Kristine Ivy Bacomo, Jenel Abella, and Maribel Dandal of Anakbayan Taytay;
For the indigenous peoples (IPs) group, named by the PTF-ELCAC to be on the recovered documents are Bagtik-Palawan, whose leaders are Efren Panday and Roly Maludin. Maludin has also been identified as the leader of Supok-Ugmo and PKP.
* Fr. Armando Limsa, leader of Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (Natripal); Fr. Joseph Cacacha, leader of Aldaw; United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastor Elena Del Valle, and Fr. Jasper Lahan of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa-Social Action Center (AVPP-SAC).
In a statement released also Tuesday by the AVPP-SAC, it said they only serve the poor and Fr. Lahan is the head of their programs.
AVPP-SAC also said Fr. Limsa has been an advocate in the protection of the rights of the IPs as he himself is a Tagbanua.
It also clarified that Fr. Cacacha has never been a member or leader of the Aldaw.
“We are surprised and dismayed at the report that three of our priests are included in the list of groups known to be connected to the CPP-NPA-NDF. We categorically deny this allegation. As a Church, we are only called to proclaim the truth, to serve the common interest of our people and to work for peace. May we be kept safe in the love of God, as we pursue our mission,” the AVPP said.
* National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) coordinator Kenneth Tabla.
The presentation said the individuals and business establishments victimized by the NPA’s revolutionary tax collections or extortions are:
* Erwin Mangubat, general manager of RR, Panoy (Big Bo), Fons Austria, a certain Gigi (farm owner), Jun Calang, Mel de Luna, Obet Licon, Palawan Pawnshop’s Bobby Castro, Rene Gavilaga, a certain Thelma, Vlad Tram, Cora Harold, a certain Mildred, Orig Bigasan, Fred (Bantay Dagat), a certain Bo-el, Dodong Avig, a certain Hector, a certain Kagawad Ang, Bgay Chickoy, a certain Nanay Pilar, and Roxas mayor Dennis Sabando.
* Go Construction Company, Cavdeal, Ivy Michelle Trading and Construction, San Andres Palm Oil, Helen Construction, Gold Rock Construction Company, Lustre Construction, BCT Construction, Kim Harold, Globe, Agumil Palm Oil, Del Monte, Lion Heart, Palawan Pawnshop, Palawan 1, RoRo, Coral Bay Nickel Corporation, and Newington Construction Company.
“We have discovered na mula pa pala noon ay talagang ganito na ang ginagawa nila. Our initial investigation ay kaya sila nagbibigay dahil natatakot sila. Kaya ngayon ay kinakausap namin sila kung anong tulong ang puwedeng naming maibigay,” Medina added.
Other targets of extortion also include Puerto Princesa City mayor Lucilo Bayron, Batarza, Mayor Abraham Ibba, former city mayor Edward Hagedorn, Al Ibba, Rizal vice mayor Norman Ong, and former board members Sunny Batul, Marivic Roxas, and Modesto Rodriguez.
Alvarez admitted he used to give them support, but he has not responded to them since he became the governor.
“Hindi na ako nag-re-respond ngayon. Ang sabi nga sa akin, ‘bakit hindi ka na nagco-cooperate?’ Ang sabi ko hindi naman ako puwedeng makipag-cooperate sa inyo kung makipagdigmaan kayo, ay gobernador ako, eh. Puwede ba naman ‘yon, ako ang gobyerno pagkatapos ako ‘yong magco-cooperate sa inyo?” he said.
“Doon pa ako nakatira sa San Vicente humihingi na ng tulong, kung pagkain o gamot sabi ko walang problema. Sabi ko puwede P100,000 at sabi okay daw. Sabi ko, kung dyan kayo sa Abongan punta kayo sa kapitan ng Abongan kasi kailangan pirmahan ang voucher. Sabi nila hindi naman daw pwede ‘yon. Mula noon hindi na tumawag kasi sabi ko hindi ako pwede magbigay kung walang pipirma. Kahit nga ngayong gobernador na ako, hindi ko na sinasagot kasi busy na ako kaya ang sabi nag-iba na daw ako palibhasa gobernador na ako. Simula noon wala na, hindi ko naman sila bibigyan kung walang pipirma nila,” Alvarez added.
He said many NPA members have already surrendered to him and they are now at the Palawan Provincial Jail (PPJ).
Records also showed that the provincial command of the NPA had allegedly collected P36.5 million from 2013 to 2019 as revolutionary taxes.
Broken down, the local insurgent movement had collected P1.9 million in 2018; P3.8 million in 2014; P6.9 million in 2015; P3.3 in 2016; P11.6 million in 2017; P6 million in 2018, and P3 million this year.
Previously, Medina said the rebel group’s collection this year went down due to the intensive focused military operations, civil relations activities, massive awareness campaigns regarding the ills of supporting the NPA, and the declaration of persona non grata by the municipalities under the whole-of-nation approach.
“Bumaba ang kita nila talaga dahil sunod-sunod ang naging focused military operations at saka nag-umpisa na ‘yong implementation ng whole-of-nation approach,” he said.