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Philippine rebels earn millions from extortion

Philippine communist rebels waging one of Asia's longest running insurgencies earned millions of extortion dollars from businesses this year, the military said Wednesday.
Reports compiled by the armed forces from its various field units estimate that New People's Army (NPA) got at least 300 million pesos ($6.9 million) from "revolutionary taxes" imposed on establishments in areas where they operate.
Those who failed to fork out money were typically targeted with attacks that destroyed their businesses, the military said in a statement.
The most significant attack this year took place on the southern island of Mindanao in October, when NPA rebels raided three mine sites, destroying property and forcing the temporary closure of the country's biggest nickel producer.
The rebels had also kidnapped a town mayor, two soldiers and four jail guards in separate instances, who they later freed after weeks in captivity.
"We are concerned with the direction (in which) they are heading now. Resorting to criminal activities for funding and attacking civilians to command obedience are signs of desperation," military chief Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa said.
"The NPA is losing mass base support, thus they have resorted to force and intimidation to coerce people."
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a rebellion since 1969.
Peace talks with the communists have reached an impasse after Manila in November rejected rebel demands to free 18 jailed guerrillas the NPA said were consultants to its negotiating team.
AFP News


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