NGO denies NPA links; Army says ex-rebels claim otherwise
By Sarwell Meniano / Philippine News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY – A non-government organization based in Leyte has denied links to the New People’s Army (NPA) but the military said the information came from former rebels.
The Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade (IB) issued a statement on Wednesday after the Leyte Center for Development, Inc. (LCDe) criticized government forces for linking their group to the NPA.
“This issue at hand is based also on the revelations and public statements of captured Ms. Alma Gabin, a former NPA cadre and organizer and leader in Eastern Visayas, and Edencio Dionaldo alias Bernie Bates, a full-time NPA terrorist and part-time farmer in Carigara, Leyte,” said Capt. Kaharudin Cadil, the spokesman of Army’s 802nd IB in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
LCDe executive director Jasmin Jerusalem said they have been partners of the government to curb poverty in the past 33 years and there is no way for them to get involved in the rebellion.
For decades, Jerusalem was a private sector representative of the Regional Development Council, the region’s highest policy-making body.
“Our track record (1988 until now) of 33 years helping poor and vulnerable communities is sufficient to speak for us. Specifically, in Carigara, Leyte it is true that we had many projects, especially after Super Typhoon Yolanda, but we never shortchanged our beneficiaries, we gave what was due them,” Jerusalem said.
The army released a statement on Sept. 10 disclosing that former LCDe members claimed that despite a huge amount poured in for post-Super Typhoon Yolanda recovery in 2013, they received barely enough help to rebuild their lives after the disaster.
Citing account of Bates, the military said there were occasions that Jerusalem visited their livelihood projects in Carigara, and on those occasions, she also met Juanito Sellesa Jr., alias Tibor, platoon commander of NPA Eastern Visayas regional party committee.
Gabin, former deputy secretary for education of NPA Eastern Visayas Committee, claimed in a webinar organized by the Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade that many funded projects of LCDe in post-Typhoon Yolanda were either done as "credible reality" or "partial implementation" to divert half or more of the funding to the communist terrorist group.
“The statement from Gabin about LCDe is totally untrue. Our funds are audited by an external auditor and even an auditor from our donors. We abide by the regulations and requirements of the government. These statements from your sources are offensive, threatening, malicious, baseless, brazen lies,” Jerusalem added.
Winning the "Gawad Kalasag" award in 2008 given by the Department of National Defense to the best organization in Humanitarian Response and Disaster Management is proof of the government’s appreciation of their work, according to Jerusalem.
The group also received recognitions from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Economic and Development Authority.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)