The Philippine government has urged the European Union to stop funding groups accused of being fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said today (Friday March 29) that EU funds were being used to “propagate terrorism” and finance the recruitment of child soldiers.
“The EU should [stop] because the funding will be used in destabilising the government,” he said. “If these are legal fronts and their main purpose is to break down the government then the EU who is funding them should reconsider.”
Earlier this week, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon wrote to the EU alleging that their funds were being used for the recruitment and exploitation of “vulnerable sectors” and “to propagate terrorism”.
Highlighting the example of indigenous peoples, he said the funding was causing “the systematic destruction of [their] culture and value system and the murder of their leaders”.
He said Belgian non-government organisations such as SOLIDAGRO, Viva Salud and KIYO had “indirectly and unwittingly partnered” with Philippine NGOs accused of communist ties.
Among the Philippine NGOs identified by Mr Esperon were the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development; the Ibon Foundation; Karapatan; Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation; the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines; the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center; the Alliance of Health Workers; the Kilusang Mayo Uno; Gabriela; and ACT.
“It is appalling that these entities are used to radicalise children with the end view of turning them into child warriors and future leaders of the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) communist-terrorist groups,” Mr Esperon’s letter read.
In response, Belgium is now conducting an investigation into the allegations. “We are aware of the claim made by the Philippine government. We take this claim seriously and have started immediately investigating the matter, together with the European authorities,” the country’s embassy in Manila said in a statement today.The embassy also said that if the claims were found to be true, it would “not hesitate to stop its support and to seek to recover the amounts already disbursed”.
The EU’s Programme Manager on Governance Louis Dey is also reviewing the documents submitted by Mr Esperon.
Brigadier General Antonio Parlade, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for civil military operations, said the EU had released a total of 621,000 Euros for one Filipino NGO linked to the NPA.
He added that in total Belgian NGOs had allocated some 15 million Euros over the past five years.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organisation by the USA and the EU. Its armed insurgency against the Philippine government has been ongoing since 1969. Today is the 50th anniversary of the party’s foundation.
Last week, President Duterte announced a “permanent end” to peace negotiations. “My sense is that you can maybe talk to the next president of this Republic one day,” he said.