Rebels warn Eastern Samar Rep. Evardone, town mayor on 'anti-people' activities

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Communist rebels on Friday warned Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone and Sulat town Mayor Javier Zacate to stop their alleged illegal and anti-people activities or face attack by the New People’s Army.

Fr. Santiago Salas of the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas accused Evardone and Zacate of being "partners both in politics and in crime."

Sought for reaction, Evardone said: "Is that legitimate statement? Those are the same issues raised by my nemesis in politics, and those allegations have no basis."

Salas said the two officials “enriched themselves in office as well as through masterminding criminal activities. The Evardone-Zacate tandem also violates the guidelines for electoral access in revolutionary areas by bringing along soldiers to secure and support their campaign sorties," Salas said.

Evardone, who is allied with the Liberal Party, is seeking reelection. Zacate is running for governor.

The warning against the two officials followed the incident in Misamis Oriental early this week in which Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Guingona was wounded and two of her aides killed in what authorities claimed was a rebel ambush but which the NPA said was triggered when the mayor’s security escorts rammed through their checkpoint and opened fire first.

"The NPA will surely take offensive action against the continuous violations of Evardone and Zacate's goons and military backers which are both legitimate targets," Salas said.

He accused Evardone of being a "plunderer who became enormously rich at the expense of the people," describing him as one of the richest congressmen while Eastern Samar remains one of the poorest province in the region and fourth poorest in the country.

"He looted the P173 million loan to the province in 2006 meant to buy equipment and for other purposes," Salas claimed. "He also opened the province to mining projects that pretended to be small-scale but were in reality large-scale because of sheer numerousness. He also backed the human rights violations of the military and actively contributed to the surrender campaign against the New People's Army known as the Social Integration Program. Evardone even funded the setting up of military intelligence networks in Dolores and Can-avid towns.”

Zacate, on the other hand, was described as a "criminal and corrupt official' who faced corruption charges.

But Evardone denied Salas’ accusation, saying the loan was a legitimate and legal transaction that was used to purchase new heavy equipment to repair his province’s roads.

He also denied using the military during his rallies.

"Plunderer? There was no dramatic increase in my SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth) since I became a governor. It's almost the same.  I have no goons. I'm afraid of guns, in fact. The truth is that the NPAs are openly threatening my barangay leaders to support our opponents. I hope they respect the democratic rights of the people to vote," Evardone said.