In Panay Island NPA extortion revenues hit P30 million-P40 million yearly
Jennifer P. Rendon (The Freeman) - August 23, 2018 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY — Far from being ideological, the New People’s Army (NPA) is all about business, according to Colonel Benedict Arevalo, Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade commander.

 

Arevalo slammed insinuations that government troops “massacred” the seven NPA rebels killed in Antique province. “Again, it was a legitimate operation. They were criminals who fought against government operatives,” he said, and that the rebels are nothing but bandits who preyed on individuals and companies.

 “We recovered proofs that are more than sufficient to prove that they (rebels) have been into massive extortion activities,” Arevalo said, and that the modest estimate of the extortion “earnings” by the NPA-Komiteng Rehiyon Panay (KRP) is around P30 million to P40 million a year.

This amount was based on the documents seized from Maria Concepcion “Concha” Araneta-Bocala, the CPP-NPA-NDF secretary general of KRP, who was arrested on August 1, 2015 in a rented house at Juntado Subdivision in Barangay Calumpang at Molo district of Iloilo City.

The arrest of Araneta-Bocala carried a reward of P7.8 million based on the joint DND-DILG Reward List No. 14-2012 dated November 12, 2012.

But a year later, local courts have granted her urgent motions for release on bail as she participated in the resumption of formal peace talks between the government and the NDFP from August 20 to August 27, 2016. “Given that the arrest happened three years ago, the amount of the proceeds (extortion) could increase,” Arevalo said.

Citing the coming elections, the Army commander said they expect that the NPA would further intensify its extortion racket. It can be noted that among the stash recovered from the crime scene following an encounter shortly after midnight of last August 15 (Wednesday) were several “extortion” letters signed by Ariston Remus of the Napoleon Tumagtang Command of the NPA’s Southern Front Committee.

Most of the letters were sent in August 2018, and these were rejoinders to earlier letters (based on the attachments) asking the individual or company to a meeting. The receiver was given 10 days to reply to the letter.

Part of the letter (translated from Hiligaynon) reads: “...We again get in touch with you to remind you about our purpose. We would wait for your response within 10 days. Your response would determine the actions of the revolutionary movement against you or your company.”

Major General Dinoh Dolina, commander of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, said the neutralization of ranking NPA leaders is the product of the vigilance of the civilian populace. “It is the people who provided reliable information to the AFP-PNP Intelligence Group regarding the activities and whereabouts of the members of the Regional Extortion Group of this terrorist organization. The tip-off is an indication that the people can no longer endure their extortion demands and other terroristic activities that they are casting in the area,” he said.

The operation is not only a victory for the government forces “but most of all, it is the people’s triumph who are longing for the CPP-NPA terrorist-free community,” Dolina added as he commended the civilians for their unwavering support to the military and the police.

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