By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Communist rebels in Cordillera and Ilocos regions urged the people to be more discerning and report persons posing as members of the New People’s Army to extort money so they can be punished.
In an open letter to the people of Tubo town in Abra province, the Antonio Licawen Operational Front (ALFOC), the NPA unit operating the quad-boundary of Benguet, Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur said the people should be discerning so as not to fall victims to extortion and harassment of individuals or groups posing as NPA rebels.
Salaknib Monteverde, ALFOC spokesperson said they have received reports of extortion activities of persons posing as NPA rebels in the last quarter of 2016 until first quarter of this year.
“They have been extorting large sums of money from their victims and even threaten to kill the victims should they refuse to pay,” the rebel commander said.
Monteverde said that among the victims were Johnny Gattud, the vice mayor of Tubo and Antonio Alfonso, the town’s budget officer. He added that the victims received identical letters telling them to give a certain amount for the medicines of NPA rebels wounded in combat.
Monteverde said they are working to identify the perpetrators even as he added they suspect members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police and CAFGU. He added that it could also be instigated by political rivals of the vice mayor.
Monteverde said that in the case of Gattud, the extortionists instructed him to get off from his vehicle near a military detachment and leave the money at the waiting shed.
“Common sense dictates that a person who is not afraid to collect the extorted money near a military detachment is somebody who is inside the detachment” itself, the rebel spokesperson said.
The rebel spokesperson said that in the case of Alfonso, “it was hard to believe that any rebel would expose himself and collect money from the town treasurer in Dilong village where there was heavy military presence at that time”.
Monteverde admitted that NPA rebels collect revolutionary taxes from foreign imperialists, bureaucrat capitalists, local big businessmen and landlords operating within the guerrilla zone. He added that they also collect permit to campaign fees during election.
“Revolutionary taxes are collected based on the authority and recognized political strength of the revolutionary government,” Monteverde said.
He said they send formal letters, bearing the logo and signature of the spokesperson or designated official of the concerned NPA command, to those being taxed and conduct negotiations diplomatically, never through threats. He said the letters usually ask those being taxed to set a meeting and discuss the matter in person.
Monteverde urged victims of the extortionists to “bring the matter to a unit of ALFOC so that we can discuss the matter and come to a solution on how we can identify and catch these people who are posing as NPAs. Then we can give these criminals appropriate disciplinary action.” # nordis.net