Manila – Communist rebels are siphoning off funds from multi-million-dollar aid projects in the Philippines, many of them funded by foreign governments, according to a secret military paper.
Part of the money funding the 36-year-old Maoist rebellion has been coming from agrarian-reform communities, community-based forest-management projects, and community-health projects, the paper, Knowing the Enemy, said. It was prepared by the intelligence services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the country’s senior military officers.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) and its New People’s Army (NPA) are subverting the government’s key poverty-reduction projects by infiltrating non-government organisations contracted to manage these projects.
Despite their blacklisting as “foreign terrorist organisations” by the US State Department that constricted their foreign-funding sources, there is no evidence to show that the CPP or its rebel army is on the decline, the paper said.
“To equip the NPA, cooperatives are formed by CPP cadres to take advantage of government programmes such as the community-based forest-management projects, integrated forestry-management agreements, and mining. Even agrarian-reform communities are taken advantage of,” the Agence France Presse quoted the military paper as saying.
“The government has somehow fallen into the trap of facilitating development-assistance programmes that require no accountability from the beneficiaries. With this, the [communist] party is able to funnel local and international funds into legal programmes that serve as front organisations of the CPP-NPA.”
The Community-Based Forest-Agreements and Integrated Forestry Management Agreements are the government’s principal anti-poverty programmes in rural areas, which are also the main battlegrounds of insurgency.
The report said that most of the 6,000 community-based forest-management project beneficiaries live in known NPA-guerrilla zones. The agrarian-reform department hires non-governmental agencies to train the beneficiaries, but once the funds are released to the beneficiaries, the government loses oversight powers, it added.
* AFP: Foreign aid to RP diverted to communists (The Manila Times, April 9)