BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Communist rebels in the island are facing tiempo muerto here, forcing them to intensify their extortion activities, a ranking Army division officer said.
Tiempo muerto or the dead season is the time when work slows down in the sugarcane fields of the island.
Army Major Cenon Pancito III told DNX the rebels have become “desperate” amid the series of battlefield losses in the island from Guihulngan City and La Libertad town in the Oriental, to Hinobaan town in the Occidental, recently.
The New People’s Army, meanwhile, has also launched military actions, one in Cauayan town, that led to the death of what it claimed were two military intelligence agents.
The two, it claimed were “sowing fear” in an upland village amid “widespread military operations led by the 303rd Infantry Brigade in the CHICKS area composed of the towns of Cauayan, Hinobaan, Ilog, Candoni, and the cities of Kabankalan and Sipalay.
These areas are under the political subdivision called the Sixth Legislative District, a known insurgency hotspot since the 80s.
The claims of the Armando Sumayang Command dated 19 April 2021 was posted on the Philippine Revolutionary Web Central of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
As the fighting continues in the hinterlands, the Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion reported the seizure of 44 copies of what it called as an “extortion letter” from the rebels after an encounter on 17 April 2021, in Purok Yuring, Sitio Dash 7, Barangay Bulwangan, Hinobaan town.
Army Second Lieutenant Weann Sandag said in a news release tge letters were found by soldiers in a rebel encampment after the firefight that led to the death of two suspected Red fighters.
Sandag said the letters bear the letterhead of the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command based in Negros island, which was signed by Armando Magbanua of the Regional Taxation Group, New People’s Army.
The rest of the release said:
The letter contains a threat if the recipients fail to settle or respond to their “tax obligations.”
Lt. Col Erwin Cariño, the Commander of 15thIB, said in his statement that the recovered extortion letters clearly show the criminal thinking and terroristic goal of the communist terrorist groups. They rely on extortion under the guise of the so-called “mandatory and coercive taxation” to the communities and business sectors to sustain and finance their activities.
“These terrorist groups will continue to sow fear if we allow them to circumvent and destroy the peaceful system established in our society. Insurgency is a menace to our society. Thus, I urge everyone to take courage and never permit this terroristic scheme to conquer us. Instead, let us join hands and be part of the solution in eliminating all forms of terrorism in Negros to ensure the security and safety of our communities,” Cariño added.