MANILA – The New People’s Army (NPA) is simply a bunch of terrorists without ideologies, contrary to the rebels’ claim.
Brig. Gen. George Banzon, commander of the Philippine Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade, said the NPA’s recent attacks in Surigao del Sur proved anew the senseless existence of the communist terrorist group (CTG).
He was referring to the June 19 attack in a prawn pond in Malimono town, causing about PHP8.5 million in losses, and the torching of construction equipment and killing of the site’s caretaker in Lanuza on June 24.
Both businesses refused to give in to the NPA’s extortion demands.
“Sa ngayon, talagang (Now, this truly) this represents the true color of the New People’s Army as a terrorist. Iyung (Their) acts engaged nila lately simply manifested that they are indeed terrorists,” Banzon said during the “Tagged! Debunking Lies By Telling The Truth” virtual press conference led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday.
Lt. Jonard Requina of the Malimono Police Station said the attacks and harassment were done after failed extortion tries.
“Galit iyung mga rebelde. Sabi nila ayaw mag-cooperate. Hindi nagbibigay sa kanila. Kasi may report doon na naghihingi ng, birthday yata ng commander nila. Naghingi sila ng PHP10 million cash. Hindi naman sila binigyan kasi hindi makapag-decide iyung caretaker na nandoon (The rebels were angry. They said they did not want to cooperate. We received a report that they were asking, for the birthday of their commander, for PHP10 million cash. Only the caretaker was there and could not decide),” Requina said, referring to the prawn pond attack.
He said the caretaker at the prawn pond, fearing for his life, cannot provide yet the names of the rebels.
Meanwhile, the other caretaker, who also served as a security guard, was killed at the site of MR1 Construction, which is in charge of rehabilitating roads.
Lanuza Sangguniang Bayan member Alfredo Antojado said the rebels have long been extorting money from them.
“So, ang nangyari, sinunog nila ang dalawang backhoe ng kumpanya at nilagyan ng asido iyong tatlo pang mga heavy equipment (What happened was they burned two backhoes owned by the company and poured acid over three other heavy equipment),” Antojado said.
Before attacking the construction company, the NPA rebels first fired at two nearby police stations to prevent authorities from pursuing them.
Banzon said extortion is the main source of income for NPA rebels.
Banzon assured the military is continuously taking action to ensure that similar incidents will never happen again.
Together with the police, he said they reach out to businesses operating in Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte not to give in to extortion demands despite the attacks.
He is also encouraging civilians to provide them information.
The military recovered ammunitions believed to be owned by the rebels.
“Kokonti na lang sila and they have limited ammunition. Ang magawa na lang nila is just to fire, sporadic fires, Tsambahan na lang para lang hindi makagalaw iyong mga personnel manning the police station, but ang pinaka-intent talaga nila is to inflict damage on property, on equipment na target nila for extortion, iyong mga nagmamay-ari nito (There are only a few of them and they have limited ammunition. What they can do is just fire, sporadic fires, take chances, but the real intent is to inflict damage on the property, equipment, owners so they can extort money),” Banzon said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)