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Philippine Human Rights Commission slams communist rebels’ permit-to-campaign fees

by Katherine Evangelista Saturday, May. 01, 2010 at 9:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) slammed the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army for defending their collection of Permit-to-Campaign (PTC) fees in various parts of the country.

In a press conference at the CHR office in Quezon City Friday, Human Rights Commissioner Leila de Lima said that the communist group had argued that the PTC's did not violate human rights.

The CPP was responding to a February 25 advisory issued by CHR against what it described as an extortion activity of the rebel group.

De Lima quoted the CPP in its February 27 response as saying that they were a "non-state actor" that ran its own form or government.

"The CPP claims that it runs its own government in certain areas and uses this asserted status to defend what it does in those localities," De Lima said.

"This message is absolutely indefensible from the point of view of human rights. No government anywhere, whether it is the formal sitting government or a revolutionary government, has the right to do this to candidates and to voters. No government anywhere is allowed to so blatantly and reprehensibly violate the human rights of its people," the commissioner added.

"This is extortion. It is repugnant to human rights, it violates the right to suffrage and we know that that is a basic human right," De Lima said.

According to the CHR, the NPA charges from P10,000 to P500,000 from local candidates depending on the position they are seeking and in some cases, the fee would amount to millions for congressional and national seats.

In the same press conference, Liberal Party senatorial bet Representative Risa Hontiveros admitted that two weeks ago, one of their local candidates in the Bicol region almost became a victim of the NPA's PTC scheme.

She refused to name the candidate and the province. However, she admitted that their candidate had taken a photo of the orange-colored PTC.

Orange is the color of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Senator Manny Villar, archrival of LP candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

"Regardless of who they are supporting, PTCs are a form of extortion, plain and simple and it is violative of human rights... Walang ideolohiya dyan [There is no ideology]," Hontiveros said, echoing De Lima's statement.

Also present in the press conference was Loretta Ann Rosales, convenor for Compact for Peaceful and Democratic

Elections, who expressed concern over the Permit-to-Win (PTW) scheme also implemented by the NPA.

"How can this group determine if you will win or not when there hasn't been an election yet? The people are the ones to say whether a candidate will win or not," Rosales said.

Meanwhile, De Lima called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to intensify security measures, especially for candidates in election hot spots.

Likewise, Hontiveros called on candidates to reject demands for PTCs and PTWs from the NPA.

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