Consumers bear brunt of terrorist financing: NICA exec
By Joann Villanueva / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – Consumers, and not just private firms, lose from extortion activities of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) since the billion pesos-worth of protection money that companies pay are collected from consumers as additional cost, an intelligence agency executive said.
This as National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director-General Alex Paul Monteagudo stressed the need for private companies and individuals to work with the government to hit the goal of the strengthened drive against terrorist financing.
“We will have to work with these companies if they are willing to work with the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict). If they refuse to work with the NTF-ELCAC then we will enforce the law so that we can compel them to stop (extending financing to terrorist groups),” he said a virtual briefing on Monday.
Monteagudo said the fight against terrorist financing is hard, especially since it is only under the current administration that the government is pursuing individuals and firms regarding this crime.
In his presentation, Monteagudo said CTGs like the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) primarily collect from mining and quarrying companies, the telecommunication companies, agri-business and fishpond owners, construction firms and contractors, transportation companies, politicians, and commercial establishments.
For one, telcos are required to pay the rebels around PHP50,000 per cell site per month, otherwise, these sites, particularly those located in far-flung areas, will be attacked, he said.
He said that even if only 10 percent of the around 23,000 telco cell sites in the country are threatened to be attacked by the rebels, the funds involved still runs into billions.
“The protection money, the extortion, the funding of terrorism is transacted by CPP’s Central Committee level, sa (at the) national level. While the NPAs launch the attack and demand that these cell sites negotiate (with) the Party nobody goes to the local NPAs,” he said.
Monteagudo said while not everyone can feel the impact of the extortion from mining companies, most people are affected by rebels’ extortion activities against telecommunication companies.
“For the company to earn income and net income ipapatong nila yun sa charges sa mga kababayan natin, sa Filipino people (For the companies to earn income they will charge the cost of what was extorted from them to the Filipino people),” he said.
The NICA chief, thus, stressed the need for greater cooperation between the government and the private sector because if an individual or a company was found guilty of financing the rebels then their assets will be frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
He said companies do not want this to happen because “they cannot afford to do that.”
“They will have more losses than what they lose from the extortion of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” he said.
He also said a case related to terrorist financing has been filed against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines while similar charges are being prepared for filing against individuals by September.
Monteagudo said they are also preparing charges against several companies.
He noted that “rebel returnees are willing to file affidavit to attest to the fact that these (atrocities) really happen, especially dun sa mga permit to campaign at permit to win ng mga politicians (especially those for permit to campaign and permit to win for politicians).”
While case preparation is a tedious work, the NTF-ELCAC is doing its best to follow the law to ensure that the charges will be filed in court, he said.
“While the NTF-ELCAC really wants to pursue these people and file charges against these corporations we have to satisfy the law. Sinusunod din natin yung batas (We also follow the law),” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)