Europe-PH News

NPA Extorted P300M in 2011

January 01, 2012

Mariae Francesca C. Ramos

Europe-PH News

The New People's Army (NPA) extorted P300 million from mining firms, banana plantations and other business establishments in 2011 -- more than triple the P95.5 million the communist rebels collected from January to November last year according to military intel.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Arnulfo B. Burgos, Jr., in a phone interview, attributed the significant increase to investors that are more cooperative with the military.

"Naging open na ang mga businessmen at nag-o-open na for information sa nakuhang pera unlike before na hindi sila nagsasabi [Businessmen are now more open about giving information on extortion unlike before when they kept mum]" Mr. Burgos said.

AFP Public Affairs deputy chief Maj. Enrico C. Ileto cited Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Bukidnon, and North Cotabato in Mindanao; and Camarines Sur and Masbate in Luzon where most extortion incidents happen.  These are the provinces where the NPA still has considerable force.

The rebels are losing support from the masses, Mr. Burgos added, so they intensified collection of "revolutionary taxes" from various commercial establishments to sustain their armed struggle against the Philippine government.

Businesses who refused to give into their demands saw their property vandalized and damaged by the NPA.  The military recorded a total of 31 rebel attacks against private and government infrastructure projects that resulted in P1.2 billion worth of property damage. This includes the attack on the Taganito mine in Surigao del Norte last October, which cost Nickel Asia Corp. an estimated P500 million worth of damages.

"These extortions, including what we have witnessed a few weeks ago in Surigao, are piling up and creating some uncertainty," said Hubert d' Aboville, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP).  He warned that such extortion serves as deterrent for future investments.

Newly appointed AFP Chief-of-Staff Jessie D. Dellosa also expressed his concern over the direction the rebels are taking.

"Resorting to criminal activities for funding, and attacking civilians to command obedience are signs of desperation," Mr. Dellosa said in a press release.

For his part, Mr. Ileto assured that the military will do its best to safeguard the companies and communities from further attacks.

"These extortions have claimed the lives ofso many people; if we do not act on this, more people might die and stymie the progress of the country,"  Mr. Ileto said.

 

Source: Business World; The Nation; 29 December 2011

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