BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Strange but true. The New People’s Army and the Pangasinan police are facing a common problem — extortionists posing as communist rebels.
The NPA’s Leonardo Pacsi Command in the Mountain Province warned against poseurs it said introduce themselves as representatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines/Cordillera People’s Democratic Front.
It was the second warning from a rebel unit in the region following that issued last month by the Antonio Licawen Front Operations Command, which operates in Benguet, Abra, Mountai Province and Ilocos Sur.
Leonardo Pacsi command spokesman Magno Udyaw said some of the extortionists, who the rebels suspect include state agents, would drop the name of or pretend to be CPDF spokesman Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan.
He warned another extortionist who goes by the name “Commander Soriano” of the “Red Arrow Command”: “Do not wait until you are apprehended and proper revolutionary justice is served against your self-seeking criminal acts.”
Pangasinan police director Senior Superintendent Ronald Oliver Lee, for his part, said the NPA could not be extorting from people in a province that has long been insurgency-free. “These are not actually NPA rebels but just plain extortionists using the name of the NPA,” he told reporters.
In fact, Lee said, in one case they investigated the source of a text message demanding a payoff was traced to Mindanao.
Typically, he said, the extortionists either used courier services to collect the money from their victims or give them an address to wire the funds through remittance companies.
Udyaw, for his part, said the rebels source their funds from “revolutionary taxes” levied on big businesses operating within guerrilla zones and from direct contributions from supporters. These funds, in turn, are used for the services and programs they make available to communities they operate in.
The rebel and the police officer aired similar calls for the public not to fall for the extortionists’ ploy but to report this immediately so action could be taken.