MANILA – As the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) filed its certificate of candidacy (COC) with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday, the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is confident that the party-list group will be disqualified to run for next year’s congressional elections.
At the virtual press conference of the NTF-ELCAC, National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC Vice-Chairman Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the evidence in support of the disqualification case filed against Gabriela before the Comelec is solid.
“Dapat silang madisqualify dahil talagang tumatanggap sila ng pondo sa abroad. At marami sa miyembro ng Gabriela ang napupunta sa frontlines at nagiging NPA (They should be disqualified because they are actually receiving funding abroad. And many of Gabriela’s members go to the frontlines and become NPA (New People’s Army) members),” Esperon said.
However, Esperon the Philippines is a democratic country and abides by the principles of due process, so the party-list can still file for its candidacy until the Comelec decides to disqualify Gabriela to run for Congress.
“Yung pagpa-file nila ng candidacy ay karapatan nila iyon, dahil wala pa namang desisyon... In fact, meron pang mga party-list ang nag-aapply sa Comelec ngayon na hindi pa napaprocess. Ang alam ko…(The filing of their candidacy is their right because there is no decision yet.. In fact, there are still party-lists who are now applying to the Comelec who have not been processed. What I know) they may file their candidacies pending their registration as party-list… this is all part of democracy,” he added.
He said the NTF-ELCAC has done its part and the ball now is with the Comelec to disqualify Gabriela which is part of the so-called Makabayan bloc in the Lower House, along with Bayan Muna, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Kabataan, and Anakpawis.
“Natapos na nating ang ating gawain, ibinigay na natin ang ebidensya. Hintayin natin ang Comelec magdecide. Now kung magfile sila ng candidacy that is perfectly alright with us, habang wala pang desisyon (We have done our part, we have provided the evidence. Let’s wait for the Comelec to decide. Now if they file candidacy, that is perfectly alright with us, where there is no decision yet),” he said.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on Social Media and Sectoral Concern, did not mince any words in denouncing the Gabriela Party-list for its misrepresentations.
She said the government will do everything in its power to continue to protect the youth from the evils of the Communist Party of the Philippines – NPA – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“A lot of our youth have died as NPAs. But before that, they joined Gabriela. I'm sure under the democratic process, they could file their candidacy. But the NTF-ELCAC will make sure that the CPP-NPA-NDF operatives will not go back to Congress because that is where they could harm our most vulnerable sector,” Badoy said.
NSA Deputy Director General Antonio Parlade Jr., for his part, confirmed that both Gabriela and Gabriela Youth are part of the armed rebellion of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“Ang linaw-linaw ng participation ng Gabriela at Gabriela Youth sa armed rebellion. Ang dami na nating videos. At madami na tayong former rebels na nagsasabi na from Gabriela ay naging NPA sila. At yung iba hindi nga nila alam kung kailan sila nagtransition to NPA from Gabriela. Yung mga nacapture natin ang sinasabi nila ay Gabriela sila, pero they were with the NPAs. (The participation of Gabriela and Gabriela Youth in armed rebellion is very clear. We have many videos. And we have many former rebels who say that from Gabriela, they became NPA members. Others don’t even know when they transitioned to NPA from Gabriela. Those we captured said they were Gabriela members, but they were with the NPA,” Parlade said.
“So, napakalinaw ng participation ng Gabriela dito sa armed struggle. Palagay ko na din naman, ay malinaw na sa mga taumbayan yung mga bagay na ito. Kaya hindi na pwede yung stand na apathy (So, the participation of Gabriela in this armed struggle is very clear. I think these things are clear to the people. So apathy is no longer applicable),” he added.
Last August, the NTF-ELCAC filed a petition with the Comelec contending that Gabriela willfully violated Section 2, Paragraph 5, Article 9 (C) of the Philippine Constitution by unlawfully receiving financial contributions from a foreign government and non-government organizations (NGOs), acts that are considered interference on domestic affairs and inimical to Philippine sovereignty.
According to the petition, based on the report by the international accounting firm Mazars, Gabriela received funds not only from the Belgian government but also from Viva Salud VZW, a Belgian-accredited non-government organization (NGO) and another European group.
Viva Salud from Belgium sent PHP1.8 million in March 2019, while fund transfers ranging from PHP1 to PHP2 million were made by the INTL FCstone Ltd. of London from September 2015 to March 2019.
Esperon said during the same period mentioned, then GWP Representative Emerenciana de Jesus who was also the chairperson of Gabriela, Inc. from 2013 to 2015, contributed a total of PHP930,000 to Gabriela during the 2019 national and local elections. (PR)