Communist rebels raise P26M in Philippine polls

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 22 2013 10:42 PM | Updated as of May 23 2013 06:42 AM

MANILA - Communist insurgents extorted P26 million (USD634,000) from campaigning politicians in the just-concluded Philippine mid-term elections, the military said Wednesday.

But military spokesman Major Ramon Zagala said the figure was far short of the 500 million pesos they had been targeting, citing intelligence reports.

The communist New People's Army have in the past used elections in the Philippines to raise funds by demanding that politicians pay them to campaign without being harassed.

Before the May 13 elections, an army general warned that candidates were paying between 50,000 and five million pesos to buy protection from the rebels.

However the rebels were not able to collect as much as they planned due to increased military activity, said Zagala.

"From the past we learned that during the election, they are aggressive in collections so the unified commands... increased their operational tempo and we were able to restrict the movements of the New People's Army," he said.

The NPA has been waging a 44-year-old Maoist armed campaign that has claimed at least 30,000 lives, according to a government estimate.

Violence linked to the recent polls claimed over 50 lives after campaigning began in February, according to a police tally.

The NPA ambushed the 78-year-old mayor of Gingoog city on the southern island of Mindanao on April 20, killing two of her aides and leaving her and two policemen wounded.

Several rounds of peace talks with the communist leadership, held since the late 1980s have gone nowhere.