FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – After the recent burning of construction equipment in Daraga town in Albay, a hundred-strong Infantry Company of Army soldiers is deployed to safeguard the construction of an international airport.
Lt Col. Audrey Pasia, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, said that he has started deploying additional troops in Alobo village of said town since this morning.
"Aside from conducting security operations, the soldiers will continue to implement various peace and development missions in the nearby villages. We will work closely with our counterparts in the local government to help the people in the locality," he said.
The deployment of additional soldiers was requested by the local government officials after the burning of some construction equipment owned by Sunwest Corporation, by suspected NPA rebels on May 18.
Local authorities in the area believe that the rebels resented the non-payment of extortion money to the NPA by the private contractors.
Acts of banditry
Major Harold Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson, said that the recent attack on a development project has shown that the NPA is no longer fighting for a cause, but has metamorphosed to become the largest bandit group in the country today.
"They are masquerading themselves as fighting for freedom and for the rights of the people but their activities in the field appear otherwise. The people are fed up by the forcible collection of extortion money which they proclaim as "revolutionary taxes"," he said.
In the year 2011, a total of 1.2 billion peso worth of properties were damaged by the NPA rebels as a result of the 31 reported atrocities against business establishments and government infrastructures.
It can be recalled that Joma Sison issued a statement during the 43rd Founding Anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), directing the CPP’s armed group, the NPA, to intensify its attacks.
The NPA'S raid on the Taganito Mining firm in Surigao by the rebels was carried out because of the mining company's refusal to pay extortion. It is an open secret that mining firms are always targeted by the NPA to compel them to pay enormous sum of money extorted from them.
"The NPA attacks against development projects have evil purposes: They want the people to remain poor by depriving them of economic opportunities brought out by the existence of infrastructure projects. Also, they can easily manipulate the minds of the people who are living in misery in isolated communities like the ones in Caramoan peninsula," said Cabunoc who once served in the Bicol Region.
Cabunoc also said that the NPA rebels could no longer hide the fact that extortion activities are their main source of income.
"Senior communist leaders have enjoyed the luxury of receiving a steady flow of extortion money collected not only from big business entities but also from poor farmers in far-flung communities. As a matter of fact, a high-ranking NPA leader in Albay who has no known source of income, Iglicerio Pernia a.k.a. Ka Choy, was arrested by security forces while gambling in Bulacan with at least three hundred thousand pesos of cold cash in his possession in 2008," he said.
In 2011, the CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) has collected an estimated amount of 300 million pesos from its extortion activities, a significant increase from the 95.5 Million estimated collection in 2010 . A high percentage of this amount is generated from forced collections from big business establishments like mining firms and transportation companies.
The figure of the communist rebels' extortion revenues could rise during the election period due to the usual collection of permit to campaign (PTC) or permit to win (PTW) fees from aspiring politicians.
Cabunoc said that it is high time for the people to think twice before giving in to the demands of the small bands of extortionists which are thriving in some communities.
"Banditry is one of the serious problems in the countryside. We would like the people to join hands in resisting these armed extortionists by denying any form of support to them and to report their presence to government authorities," he said.