BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The Communist New People’s Army is incidentally one of the beneficiaries of President Duterte’s “build build build” program, levying businesses with a three percent contract face value rate, and “extorting” even common folk at P5 a week or P35 a week, a ranking Army officer in Visayas said.
As the rebels continue to heap praises on Kerima Tariman alias Ka Ella who is being described as a “poet,” “warrior,” “people’s hero,” and other words to those effect, Pancito is sparing no words to paint a contrasting picture of the rebels who have fled to the uplands of Silay City where Tariman was killed as she was leading efforts to reestablish a dismantled front, military officials have repeatedly claimed.
Pancito told DNX businessmen, mostly construction contractors, have claimed that the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, had been imposing a flat tax rate of three percent on them based on approved contract prices.
This means, he pointed out, that if a contractor gets a contract agreement with the Department of Public Works and Highways valued at P1 million, the NPA gets P30,000 before the contractor pays taxes and other charges.
Pancito said this example is based on intelligence sources and revelations from some contractors who have faced difficulties in meeting the demands of the rebels.
“Whatever their claims, those are only meant to justify their criminal activity of extortion,” Pancito said, reacting to the claim of Cecil Estrella of the Roselyn Jean Pelle Command that it burned downed heavy equipment operated by Silay City Mayor Mark Andrew Golez last April “in response to the people’s clamor to punish large-scale quarrying operations which recently caused massive flooding in the area.”
The NPA statement said:
“The sanction was carried out by the RJPC yesterday, April 12, 2021 at around 10:00 pm, and paralyzed 3 backhoes on the Malogo river quarry site.
Golez has made use of his influence as local executive to violate even the incredulously low standards set by the reactionary government regarding environmental compliance. Golez and his business partners, which include prominent landlords, local businessmen, and corrupt police officers, are notorious for hauling earth and rocks from the riverbed and even from upland areas near the river, and then dumping waste water and material on the river itself.”
Pancito scoffed at the claim, saying the increased pressure on the underground Left and its” moneymaking fronts” are being felt after the Duterte government adopted the whole-of-nation approach against the Communist insurgency led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Activity (NTF-ELCAC).
This has forced the rebel underground to step up criminal activities to make money, Army Brig. Gen. Innocencio Pasaporte told DNX in a separate interview.
“This is a desperate move to survive especially with the coming elections and the opening of the milling season,” the newly-promoted chief of the Army’s 303rd Brigade based in the province added.
What is more condemnable, however, is what Pancito called as “indiscriminate extortion” by the rebels even among poor upland villagers they claim to protect.
The levy, though significantly lower at P5 a week, is “a burden already for people who cannot make ends meet during the dead season,” he said.
The dead season is the off milling period in the sugar industry during which money is hard to come by in the province.
As if the regular extortion is not enough, the rebels also force the residents to give them their food.
Rebel spokesman Juanito Magbanua has yet to respond to questions sent by DNX for this report.