NORTH COTABATO: Communist rebels tried but failed to overrun two detachments of soldiers and paramilitary forces in a remote village here on Thursday.
Chief Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Tulunan police director, said on Friday that although outnumbered, members of the civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) engaged the attackers in a 15-minute firefight until the rebels fled.
No casualty was reported on both sides.
Cordero said the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels first attacked the detachment in Barangay Lampagang and, as they fled, fired at militiamen manning another detachment in Barangay New Tuburan, an adjoining village where farmers are busy with the current harvest time.
It was during this season that the NPAs are extorting money from farmers here, a highly agricultural town in North Cotabato.
The attack came after the military here announced that NPAs operating at the foot of the country’s highest peak — Mt. Apo, sent extortion letters from businessmen in Kidapawan City and North Cotabato.
First Lieutenant Nasrullah Sema, speaking for the 57th Infantry Battalion, said the NPAs have been mulcting from traders in North Cotabato.
The letter received by an unidentified trader contained “solicitations” from the NPA Command in Mt. Apo.
But Sema said it is not solicitation if the solicitor imposes fixed monthly amount from the trader.
“That is clear and simple extortion accompanied by threats of violence if demands are not met,” he said, adding that the 57th IB have provided security personnel to traders who received demand letter from the NPA.
He said traders should not give in to the NPA mulcting activities “because it will become a cycle.”