By UCA News
By Joseph Peter Calleja
(UCA News) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned people that they risk jail if they make donations to groups with links to the outlawed Communist Party.
Giving to charities or worthy causes is a popular Christmas tradition in the Philippines.
Duterte said he had instructed police and the military to be on the lookout as the Christmas season was not an excuse to show support for the Communist Party, which is classified as a rebel group.
“I warn all those who pretend to be generous but in truth and in fact are supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army or the National Democratic Front. You cannot use Christmas to legitimize illegal actions of supporting them,” Duterte told reporters on Dec. 9.
Duterte said the public had a duty to report any attempts by rebel or terrorist groups to solicit funds during the Christmas season.
“This is illegal. Citizens must report this, otherwise they will be aiding terrorist activities,” Duterte added.
The Anti-Terror Council, a government organization tasked with tackling terrorist groups, said any person who provides material support to a terrorist or group was liable to severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
Father Diogenes Gaspar, a priest from Masbate Diocese in the central Philippines, said that while it was true that no Catholic should support terrorist groups, the government should not instill fear in giving.
“We know any person giving aid — financial or not — to terrorist groups is guilty of a crime. But let us not allow fear to reign and to defeat the generosity within us,” he said.
“It’s the Christmas season but let us also be vigilant about those who receive our hard-earned money. Better look for official foundations to make sure that you give to legitimate groups.”