CHR: Alleged NPA members tried to extort money, threatened 2 Mindanao offices
MANILA, Philippines — Two callers who identified themselves as alleged members of communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) tried to extort money and threaten two Commission on Human Rights (CHR) offices in Mindanao, one of its officials said on Tuesday.
According to CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann de Guia, the Commission’s office in Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen received phone calls recently about alleged NPA members asking for money from CHR.
De Guia said the first call came in last May 11, where a supposed NPA commander asked CHR’s Region XIII office for P8,000 to aid his wounded comrade — asking for a lawyer while warning that he knows all the said office’s personnel.
The second call happened on the same day, as the Northern Mindanao branch said a person claiming to be an NPA member asked for financial assistance worth P200,000.
Another call was made the next day to the same Northern Mindanao office — supposedly the same voice who threatened investigators in CHR Region XII.
“The [CHR] is deeply alarmed of the two incidents of possible extortion and security threat from an alleged commander and a member of the [NPA] done via phone call to the CHR Region X and XII offices,” de Guia said in a statement.
“CHR strongly condemns these brazen acts of extortion and threats against our regional offices. As an independent National Human Rights Institution, CHR shall not yield to any form of extortion or threat by any individual or group,” she added.
De Guia said they are calling on authorities to check on the issue, along with providing security protection to the said regional offices which were threatened by supposed NPA members.
“We ask all the proper authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP), to conduct an immediate parallel investigation as we do our own probe on the incident. We also expediently request for PNP to provide security and protection to the said CHR regional offices and their personnel,” she asked.
“The Commission shall continue to conduct its mandate steadfastly and firmly, undeterred by any form of extortion, threat, and/or intimidation,” she added.
INQUIRER.net has sought the side of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the group that oversees NPA operations, for its comments on the issue, but their representatives have not yet replied as of posting time.
This is not the first time that CHR called out NPA for its operations. Over the past two years, CHR has issued several reminders and warnings to CPP and NPA over operations that breached either its own ceasefire agreement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or even provisions of the International Humanitarian Law.
In March 2020, CHR reminded NPA that both the government and the rebels should set fighting aside as the country was crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in 2021, the Commission denounced NPA’s use of improvised explosive device (IEDs) in battle, as such explosives do not differentiate combatants and civilians.
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