CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The business community here has vowed to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in putting an end to the extortion activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region.
Brig. Gen. Maurito L. Licudine, commander of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade said “the 402nd Brigade field unit commanders and operational control (Opcon) unit commanders are very much happy for their support in our cause for peace and development and put an end to this forced taxation by the CPP-NPA,” 402nd Brigade Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer Maj. Francisco P. Garello, Jr. told the Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.
He said the local government units (LGUs) and business community expressed their commitment to help the Army against the CPP-NPA-NDF extortion activities.
Garello said this commitment was made during the Stakeholders Security Forum on Peace and Development held here recently.
A total of 16 business owners belonging to the Butuan City Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) and Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce Association Incorporated (FCCCAI) who participated in the forum expressed their support to finally put an end to the CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) extortion activities in the city.
They assured the military of support and cooperation and vowed not to give in to the threats and intimidations of the CPP-NPA.
The forum was attended by Butuan City Administrator Rey Desiata, the City Administrator of Butuan City; 402nd Brigade commanding general Brig. Gen. Licudine; 23rd Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Julius Cesar Paulo Jr.; and commanders and officers of Police Regional Office 13 and Metro Butuan City Police Office.
The forum aimed to educate the participants on the NPA extortion scheme, embolden the business owners to stop yielding to the CNT’s extortion demands, and institute efforts to synergize collaboration in ending the CNT’s extortion activities, Garello said.
Desiata said the Butuan City local government will continue to work with the business owners and assured that Mayor Ronnie Vicente C Lagnada recognizes the pressing problem and will collaborate with the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police in helping the establishments that the CPP-NPA extorted from.
“We also urge our colleagues in the Task Force ELCAC and our politicians to please synergize your effort in order for us to prevent NPA extortion activities in the locality. Let us remind companies, business owners, and fellow politicians that paying extortion to the NPAs will empower more our common enemy, impede economic growth, and will only bring more suffering to our constituents” he said.
402nd Brigade operation officer Capt. Daryl Secong bared that an average of P15,000 to P20,000 have been extorted from various establishments in Butuan City on a monthly basis.
“This is about P9,380,000 in a year which unfortunately contributed to the growth and sustainment of the strength of the CPP-NPA terrorists operating in the area,” he said.
“We appeal for your participation in our effort to drastically decrease, or even stop, the NPA fund generation,” Secong urged the business owners.
The disclosure on the collected extortion money from business owners in Butuan City and other areas in Agusan was supported by the revelation of certain alias “Ka Lyn-lyn” during the forum. She was a “tax collector” and designated extortionist of the Guerilla Front (GF) 21 of the CPP-NPA North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) who surrendered to the Police Regional Office 13 in June, 2020.
Licudine called the surrender of “Ka Lyn-lyn” as another fatal blow to the terrorist group resource generation scheme after several of its finance officers conducting extortion activities in Agusan del Norte and some parts of Caraga region were either captured or killed by the joint law enforcement operations of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.
“The extortion capacitates the NPA to perpetrate atrocities. From the year 2010 to date, 166 government troops have paid the ultimate sacrifice and 113 innocent civilians were mercilessly murdered and violated by the treacherous communist terrorists all because someone decided to pay one peso to the NPAs,” Licudine said.
On October 22, 2020, three revolutionary tax collectors under GF4-A were apprehended by the joint elements of 23rd IB, and the Agusan del Norte and Magallanes police force. The apprehended personalities were the resource and fund generating team of GF4A. They received and collected the money extorted by a certain “Ka Baking,” finance officer, GF-4A,NCMRC through money transfer several times in Magallanes town, Agusan del Norte, Garello said.