NPA guerrillas vow to punish fake collectors of revolutionary taxes
BAGUIO CITY—Fake communist rebels have been collecting “revolutionary taxes” in the highlands during the last three months of 2016, according to the New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the Cordillera provinces of Benguet, Abra, and Mountain Province, and in Ilocos Sur province.
“They have been extorting large sums of money from their victims and [have] even threatened to kill the victims should they refuse to pay,” according to Salaknib Monteverde, spokesperson of the Antonio Licawen Front Operations Command (Alfoc), in a letter released to the Inquirer on Thursday.
The NPA urged the public to provide them information that may help them “punish” the sham rebels.
Among the supposed victims of the fake group was an Abra town vice mayor and his budget officer, who received identical letters directing them to provide money for medicine to help NPA rebels wounded in combat, Monteverde claimed.
Monteverde said the vice mayor was instructed to drive to an area near a military detachment and leave money at a waiting shed.
“Common sense dictates that a person who is not afraid to collect the extorted money near a military detachment is somebody who is inside the detachment himself,” the rebel spokesperson said.
The Inquirer could not independently verify this report at press time. The officials allegedly victimized by the fake NPA rebels live in a remote Abra municipality.
Monteverde acknowledged that the NPA collects revolutionary taxes from “foreign imperialists, bureaucrat capitalists, local big businessmen and landlords operating within the guerrilla zone.”
“Revolutionary taxes are collected based on the authority and recognized political strength of the revolutionary government,” Monteverde said.
He said the NPA sent letters, bearing the logo and signature of the spokesperson or designated official of the concerned NPA command, to those being taxed and conduct negotiations during scheduled meetings.
Monteverde claimed his unit never uses threats.
He also urged victims of the extortionists to “bring the matter to a unit of Alfoc.”
“Then, we can give these criminals appropriate disciplinary action,” he said.
Monteverde said rebels were trying to determine if the alleged scams were perpetrated by the military and the police, or by the political rivals of the vice mayor.
President Duterte had listed what he said were signs of goodwill which he was waiting for rebels to demonstrate that would convince him to believe in rebel sincerity in the ongoing peace process.
One of these gestures of goodwill, Mr. Duterte said, is a stop to rebel collection of taxes in their territories.
But Jesus Dureza, presidential peace adviser, said what Mr. Duterte listed were just “wishes” and not preconditions for the peace talks. —KIMBERLIE QUITASOL
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