‘NPA extorts P1.5B annually in Eastern Mindanao’

DAVAO Police Regional Office Director Manuel Gaerlan said the New People's Army (NPA) are allegedly collecting an estimated P1.5 billion annually from extortion activities in Eastern Mindanao, which covers Davao Region and nearby provinces, alone.

"Mr. (Jose Maria) Sison is claiming this is revolutionary tax [but] if this is a revolutionary tax then they (NPA) should be held accountable by the people," Chief Superintendent Gaerlan said.

"For 48 years, saan napunta yung mga kinolekta nilang revolutionary tax? May napagawa ba silang kalsada? May napagawa ba silang eskwelahan? Puro sa pockets lang ng kung sinu-sino," he added.

Gaerlan said some people may think that the group or its leaders are concerned with the welfare of the poor or the indigenous people when actually they are not.

"Minsan na bibiktima rin ang mga local officials akala nila totoong mga Pilipino ito na isinusulong ay kapakanan ng mga mahihirap subalitang gusto lang nila isulong yung kanilang sariling interes," Gaerlan said.

He added that the group does not want to stop their collection from extortion activities.

"Sila ang number one kotong syndicate ng Pilipinas... ultimong sa kaliit-liit na sari-sari store may kinokolekta sila (They are the number one extortion syndicate in the Philippines...they are even collecting from the small sari-sari stores)," Gaerlan said, adding that those who are being extorted are forced to pay due to fear.

He said those who are not able to pay, like the businesses, the NPA will burn down their equipment.

"This is in pursuit of their extortion activities. Anong [kaibihan] nila sa ordinaryong tulisan or criminal syndicate? (What is their difference from an ordinary bandit or criminal syndicate?)" Gaerlan said.

He is urging business establishments or individuals who are being extorted to report to the police.

"Warning naming sa ibang business establishments na nagbibigay. Ok, nagbibigay sila pero sa isang iglap kung gusto kasunugan ng NPA, susunugin pa rin yan whether nagbibigay ka o hindi. Kung hindi na sila nakokontento sa binibigay mo..., pag hindi mo naibigay gusto nila susunugin nila equipment mo, planta mo," Gaerlan said.

He said that just like what Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said earlier on the attack of the NPA group to Lapanday facilities, their acts are acts of terrorism.

Gaerlan said that those who are really being affected by their activities are the workers of the establishment.

For example, he said if the group burns down the facility, the land of the owners is still there but the workers now do not have a place to work.

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