BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division issued a warning yesterday to those helping the New People’s Army rebels, following the recovery of copies of extortion letters after an encounter in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental recently.
Maj. Cenon Pancito, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, said yesterday that helping a terrorist group, such as the NPA, is a crime.
Under the new anti-terror law, aiding, conniving, and helping these people will have consequences to face, Pancito added.
Owners of big businesses and even small stores are the targets of extortion activities of the NPA in southern Negros, he said.
Forty-four copies of extortion letters, with the letterhead of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command based in Negros Island and signed by Armando Magbanua of the Regional Taxation Group, were among those recovered after a recent encounter between the 15th Infantry Battalion and communist rebels in Brgy. Bulwangan, Hinobaan, Negros Occidental.
Pancito said that the rebels have been into this criminal activity for a long time to fund their armed struggle against the legitimate government, and in worse case, just to enrich the pockets of their selfish leaders.
The letter said the so-called People’s Democratic Government, that consists of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed unit, the NPA, “looks after the social needs of the people” and “uses, for the benefit of the people, whatever resources it can raise”.
Based on the tone of the letter, it is a follow-up of a communication previously sent, that did not get a response from the recipient.
“An invitation to discuss your business and corresponding tax obligations was sent to you earlier. However, you have not responded to this. We would like to impress on you the seriousness of our invitation,” Magbanua said.
He gave the recipient “one month to respond”, otherwise, the NPA will “implement sanctions consequent to your failure to comply”. The pursuit operations against fleeing rebels in the Hinobaan encounter led to another armed clash between rebels and 15IB troopers in Brgy. Pinggot, Ilog on April 24, that claimed the lives of two more rebels.*