Quit paying ‘tax’ to communists or face raps, NICA warns traders
By Willie Casas and Francisco Tuyay / Manila Standard
The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency issued a stern warning Monday against companies and individuals that they will face charges for paying extortion money to the Communist Party of the Philippines -New People’s Army-National Democratic Front which, in effect, finances the group’s reign of terror, especially in the countryside.
At the weekly virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), NICA Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo said that they are now in the process of collating evidence on several companies and individuals that are paying “revolutionary tax” to the NPA.
“We will be filing cases. NTF-ELCAC is pursuing it,” he said.
Monteagudo also reiterated that NICA has compiled a list of companies and individuals that provide financial support to the Communist Terrorist Groups and are now the subject of an investigation.
The NICA chief, however, was quick to assure companies that wish to cooperate with the authorities would be receiving protection and support from the government to avoid prosecution and the possible freezing of their assets by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Based on the NICA report, out of the total P5.4 billion in extortion money which the CTG had collected from 2016 to 2018, mining and quarrying companies have coughed up more than P3 billion, making them by far the biggest “victims” of communist terrorist extortion in the Philippines.
Monteagudo also said that the CPP-NPA-NDF received about P13.5 million from telecom companies which NICA believed was just a small portion of the real figure.
The intelligence agency has received information from Panay province that the CTGs are demanding up to P50,000 per cell site per month for “protection”. “You can just imagine that per cell site is about P600,000 annually. If the CTGs can demand protection from just 2,000 cell sites or 10% of the 23,000 cell sites in the country… That would already be P1 billion a year,” the official explained.
Agri-business and fishpond owners’ payments were estimated at P804.3 million.
Monteagudo said that when these farmers and fisherfolk do not give in to the demands of the CPP-NPA-NDF, their farms and livelihood are destroyed by the terrorists.
Construction firms or contractors followed in third place by paying a hefty sum of P789.4 million from 2016 to 2018. Monteagudo, however, pointed out that the report does not include the CTGs extortion of Triple A construction companies who have current contracts with the government’s Build, Build, Build Program.
Monteagudo said that politicians also contributed about P76.7 million to the CPP-NPA-NDF during elections, while moneyed and rich individuals gave some P121.5 million to the terrorist group’s fund. Monteagudo said these funds are transacted directly at the CPP-NPA-NDF Central Committee. “No money goes to the local NPA,” he said, referring to the armed wing that carries out the extortion activities.
On another front, the military claimed that the NPA has continued recruiting minors as combatants.
This surfaced following the surrender of two youngsters to whom the terrorists had earlier promised a decent job but were forced to join the CTG.
Army Lt. Sancho Tomaquin of the 88th Infantry Battalion said that the two minors , identified only as alias Ruffa and Job, both age 15 were force to surrender.
Tomaquin said the two minors were recruited by a certain Jun-Jun who befriended them and convinced them to work in a factory in Quezon, Bukidnon.
The two minors claimed that the promised job never materialized and instead they were herded to the mountains where the armed groups trained them.