By ARMINE DE GUIA
Spokesperson, Apolonio Mendoza Command
NPA Quezon Provincial Operations Command
The reported theft of million-peso funds for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps (cash dole-out program) in San Francisco, Quezon on 18 October is orchestrated by a syndicate led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), according to the Apolonio Mendoza Command of the New People’s Army in South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula (SQBP).
“The hold-up incident is suspicious. This crime is certainly planned and organized by a syndicate protected or even led by elements of the AFP and the reactionary police,” said Armine de Guia, spokesperson of NPA- AMC.
Based on reports, unidentified men pulled over and held-up the Philpost vehicle used to deliver the 4Ps fund in San Francisco. The vehicle containing millions of pesos of public funds was unaccompanied by security personnel, inviting suspiscion that the theft was set-up by reactionary authorities.
Thefts involving the AFP are not uncommon in the province of Quezon, added de Guia.
“In SQBP, elements and units of the AFP, Philippine National Police, and Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (AFP-PNP-CAFGU) are proven accomplices of common criminals stealing from the people. The most recent case is the hold-up incident in Barangay (village) Tayuman, San Francisco, where an official of the 74th Infantry Battalion was uncovered as the mastermind behind the armed robbery of a business establishment,” said de Guia.
De Guia also condemned the AFP’s coddling of CAFGUs involved in the theft of carabaos in various barrios (villages) in SQBP.
Carabao theft has a long history in the province of Quezon, with the most infamous syndicate in the 1970s led by Sgt. Batibot. The NPA imposed capital punishment on Sgt. Batibot and his minions in 1978, and afterwards eradicated the syndicate.
“It is ironic that the eight battalions of soldiers, police and para-military agents in SQBP could not prevent petty crimes like robbery. Either the reactionary government’s army and police are useless, or they are guilty of committing these crimes against the people,” said de Guia.
According to the NPA-AMC, the hold-up incident proves that the 4Ps program is a waste of people’s funds and a magnet for corruption. Local politicians conniving with reactionary armed forces milk the billion pesos-worth of 4Ps fund, raising suspicions that the million-peso fund stolen in San Francisco might be used in the upcoming barangay elections.
The 4Ps program began under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime and continues as a banner program of the Noynoy Aquino administration.
Various groups and sectors have criticized the 4Ps program, where cash subsidy is directly handed by the Deparment of Welfare and Social Development to the poorest Filipinos, as determined by the government agency.
“The 4Ps program is a dole-out and band-aid solution to the deepening poverty, and only creates opportunities to further deceive and exploit the poor,” said de Guia.
The NPA-AMC said that the only solution to poverty is the implementation of genuine land reform in the countryside, through the destruction of land monopoly and the confiscation and distribution of lands owned by the landlord class.