Military officials have said that NPA rebels continue to engage in extortion and kidnapping in several districts of Mindanao, including Sarangani Province and Davao Occidental – this in spite of the ceasefire agreement signed in August.
The Philippine Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion said that several incidents were ongoing and being reported by locals in numerous barangays in the two provinces.
The Army has asked the NPA to stop their attacks against civilians before they jeopardise the ceasefire agreement signed by the National Democratic Front and the Philippine Government in Oslo, Norway.
On Friday, the Philippine Army said: “We are calling the rebels in Sarangani Province to stop kidnapping and extortion of the poor residents and elected officials as it would put in jeopardy the spirit of the ceasefire declared by the DMC in Norway, which is to have an atmosphere of peace while peace talk is going on.”
Officials are saying that NPA members are calling businessmen, politicians and citizens to informal-type meetings, only to demand cash when they arrive.
Three of the recent incidents involved barangay councillors in Sarangani Province.
Another incident involved threats of death if each member who showed up to the meeting did not pay them 25,000 pesos.
Six people were abducted, including a barangay councillor on September 27. Those men were released on Thursday with the proviso they each produce 50,000 pesos by October 2 or be killed for non payment.
Store owners in Davao Occidental were also threatened by NPA rebels after being called to a meeting where they were prevented from leaving until each one paid them 20,000 pesos.