NPA extorts ''more than a billion pesos per year'' from western Mindanao firms: Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the New People's Army (NPA) were able to extort ''more than a billion pesos per year'' from business companies in Mindanao.
"Extortion is still their local funding here. It is still extortion plain and simple. Maybe in Mindanao alone based on our estimate, their extortion in mining, plantation, bus companies, business reached more than a billion pesos per year," Lorenzana said on Sunday.
"That is the figure given by the intel community so I think there is basis for that claim. Remember that most of the mining, huge banana plantations are in western Mindanao," he said.
"Add the telcos and the government projects being done by private contractors and the amount extorted is huge. This is the main source of their financing. It is no surprise that is where they have the most NPA. Foreign funding comes in mainly through NGOs (non-government organizations)," he added.
Lorenzana said the huge money collected by the communist group in their extortion activities is one of the reasons the rebels do not have sincerity in the peace process.
"Where can you see a peace talk where they do not want to stop their extortion, attack against military and police, continue to destroy heavy equipment and kill barangay captain and native leaders?" he said.
"We have to remember their strategy according to (Luis) Jalandoni(former chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front in peace talks with the government) ... the peace process is just one way to advance the armed struggle," he added. Robina Asido/DMS