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Reds side with Fariñas in tobacco fund mess

Amid the disputes between political rivals in the north communist rebels have spoken yesterday assailing Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos of corrupting tobacco funds.

In effect, the National Democratic Front (NDF) appears to back House Majority leader and Ilocos Norte First District Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas who first raised the red flags over Marcos’ alleged misuse of the kitty from the province’s tobacco levy.
NDF consultant Randall Echanis said that government officials such as Marcos deprive local tobacco farmers of the benefit they accordingly deserve.
“Officials in Ilocos Norte led by Gov. Imee Marcos were found to have misused the fund of the Tobacco Excise Tax or RA (Republic Act) 7171 that is intended for tobacco farmers and the tobacco industry, now considered as a sunset industry,” Echanis said.
“Since time immemorial, only foreign-owned tobacco companies have benefited from tobacco plantations in Ilocos and Cagayan Valley,” he added.
Albeit not directly mentioning Fariñas in their statement, the rebels seem to agree with what he is doing in running after Marcos’ suspected of wasting ?66.45 million worth of tobacco funds for motor vehicles instead of benefits for tobacco farmers.
Echanis stressed that paying the so-called “revolutionary tax” system imposed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in zones where they operate is not corrupted and that it’s better for the citizens to pay them instead.
Abolishing revolutionary taxation, which is technically a crime of extortion in legal terms, is among President Duterte’s demands to the NDF for the stalled peace talks to resume.
“While we are at it, it is also preposterous for the government negotiating peace panel to continue rubbing in the never-ending issue of revolutionary tax at this point,” Echanis said.
“Look! After all, one of their own is accused of plundering people’s tax money,” he added, referring to Marcos’ alleged excise tax corruption.
Meanwhile, Echanis remarked that during a consultation with the NDF, farmers from the Ilocos region said they are willing to gradually shift from tobacco to other crops, particularly to food crops for domestic consumption such as rice, corn, vegetables and others.
“If there is irrigation in Ilocos, farmers can produce crops other than tobacco,” Echanis said.
“Raising agricultural productivity, and provision of agricultural research and development and support services to farmers were also proposed,” he added.


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