DAVAO CITY: The communist New People’s Army (NPA) is earning up to P1 billion from money extorted from agricultural and mining operations in the operational area of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).
Eastmincom commander, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, over the weekend said the estimated amount is based on intelligence information gathered by their operational units.
The money collected as “revolutionary” taxes is from agri-industrial firms, especially the banana plantations, mining operators, transport sector, business firms and other individuals.
“That is why we need to stop this because with these [extorted]funds that they generate, they can produce more firearms,” Madrigal said.
He added that the military continues in engaging stakeholders to discourage the business and industry sectors from giving in to the NPA’s “extortion” demands.
“Ang tawag sa scheme na yan ay revolutionary tax or Rebolusyonaryong Buwis sa Kaaway na Uri [RBK] [That scheme is called revolutionary tax or Revolutionary Tax for the Enemy], which means if the group is collecting money from a certain business, then they are treating them as the rebels’ enemy,” Madrigal said.
He added that the military is engaging with the business and industry sectors to advise them on how to deal with the issue.
Madrigal said among the measures that can be taken by these sectors are investing in security equipment and actively collaborating with law enforcers.
“They should ask for our soldiers’ help so that [government]projects will not be delayed kasi may iba hindi nila alam o kung papaano o kanino magsasabi [because some of them do not know how or whom they’ll report to],” he added.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said the NPA rebels are victimizing lowly farmers in the rural areas.
Banana growers have called on the government to put an end to the supposed extortion activities of the NPA that have been taking a toll on their livelihood.
Meanwhile, Madrigal said there are about 1,000 to 1,500 NPA rebels within the operational area of the Eastmincom.