CPP-NPA Permit to Campaign Fees: Fundraising or Opportunism?

The Philippine Left and the 2010 Elections
(A series of commentaries on left electoral tactics in the lead-up to the May 10, 2010 Philippine elections.)

The issue of the New Peoples Army collecting ‘permit to campaign fees’ (euphemistically named ‘revolutionary taxes’ by the CPP) from capitalist trapo [1] politicians wanting to campaign in NPA strongholds has once again resurfaced in the lead-up to the May 2010 elections. The fees buy these trapo politicians a ‘permit to campaign’ in NPA areas. According to a February 5 Dateline news report, documents obtained from an NPA leader arrested in January this year, pegs the taxes from P30 million for a presidential candidate to P5000 for a candidate for local council. It’s a well-known ‘secret’ in the left that this practice of tax collection during elections is a lucrative source of fundraising for the CPP-NPA.

A March 12 statement issued by the CPP [2] while denying that the CPP ‘simply accepts bribes to let reactionary politicians win in the election’, at the same time indirectly justifies the practice by claiming that “there are already two governments in the country, two different laws, two different systems of life. If the reactionaries want to campaign in the areas controlled by the revolutionary movement, they must recognize the revolutionary government.” Following the logic of this argument, one can justifiably also ask why a revolutionary government should allow a politician belonging to a reactionary government to campaign in its ‘sovereign territory’? Contrast the NPA practice to that of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an armed liberation movement, struggling for self-determination of the Bangsa Moro people in Mindanao. The MILF doesn’t open up its base for money to reactionary politicians during election campaigns, so why should the NPA?

The left rhetoric of the CPP-NPA notwithstanding, this is yet another example of the opportunist electoral politics that permeates the left’s electoral tactics in this country. According to some sources several NPA fighters themselves are extremely critical of this practice. Opening up their areas compromises the security of these NPA bases, increases the vulnerability of their cadre who have to collect the money and opens up the organization to military exposure and attacks.

Reihana Mohideen, Manila