Monday, January 16, 2012

Traders, pols cry for help vs NPA ‘extortion’

CAMP TIRSO GADOR, Tuguegarao City—Politicians and businessmen here have sought government help to stop extortion activities carried out by supposed members of New People’s Army (NPA), police said.
Senior Supt. Mao Aplasca, Cagayan police director, said his office has intensified its intelligence operations and come up with a strategy with the private sector meant to seize members of extortion groups, who are said to have increased their activities at the start of the new year.
In almost all cases, the suspects introduce themselves as NPA members who are collecting revolutionary taxes, he said.
“We received an increasing number of complaints from a number of local officials, businessmen who are saying they have had enough of these extortion activities. For us, it’s also a good sign that victims are starting to come out,” Aplasca said.
He said even farmers in poor rural communities have not been spared.
A local rice dealer, who asked not to be named citing security reasons, said he was forced to come out and seek police help because demands came at a time that his business was barely trying to recover from the impact of the series of natural calamities that hit the region late last year.
“We are still practically bleeding and here they are again trying to squeeze our wounds. The situation is getting worse,” said the source, a member of the local chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Aplasca said the suspects relay their demands by sending letters or text messages, or by calling through mobile phones. Others visit their victims. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon
10:45 pm | Thursday, January 12th, 2012

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