Lao to business firms: stop paying ‘revolutionary taxes’ or delay peace in Mindanao  

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Dec) — The chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MinBC) has urged the business sector to stop paying “revolutionary taxes” to the New People’s Army (NPA) as they will only delay the solution to the insurgency problem in Mindanao.

In an interview at the sidelines of the MinBC 2017 Annual General Membership Meeting and Partners Forum Friday night, MinBC chair Vicente Lao urged companies to “put your foot down somewhere because the government feels if you support them, the short-term benefit is (your equipment) don’t get burned. But long-term effect of that is you are dragging the solution or you are making that worse.”

Lao said an “initial setback” may be expected as a result of not paying revolutionary taxes to NPA but refusing to pay will contribute to the overall solution to the insurgency problem.

SHOW OF FORCE. New Peoples Army rebels stand with their AK 47 rifles during a formation during the Communist Party of the Philippines 46th anniversary held in a small rural village in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. MindaNews file photo by Froilan Gallardo

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier warned he would shut down businesses, most especially mining firms, that are continuously paying “revolutionary taxes” to the NPA.

The NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had been designated as terrorist organizations with Proclamation No. 374 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 5, pursuant to RA No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.

Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was subsequently directed to file a petition in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) under the provisions of the Human Security Act for its judicial affirmation.

The proclamation said the law “criminalizes the financing of terrorism and dealing with property or funds of designated persons/organizations, and prevents and suppresses the commission of said offenses through freezing and forfeiture of the property or funds of said designations persons/organizations, among others.

The law provides that it is the policy of the State to “protect life, liberty, and property from acts of terrorism, to condemn terrorism and those who support and finance it and to recognize it as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and the welfare of the people, and to make financing of terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”

Lao hopes government would immediately act on addressing the peace and security situation in Mindanao so that the business sector “can channel our finances and resources” to developing Mindanao.

He said some of the companies resorted to paying revolutionary taxes to the NPA to prevent trouble, as they were “left to fend for themselves” by the security sector in the past.

“No military was there to protect them before. The President is correct, if you give, you exacerbate the problem,” Lao said.

“We have to decide once and for all, if I go against the NPAs, the communists, well everybody has to reconfigure your relationship with the NPAs. Because if you continue to support financially, I will close you down,” Duterte said last November 21 in “Ang Huling Tikas Pahinga: Isang Pagpupugay sa mga Bayani ng Marawi” in Taguig.

Duterte issued Proclamation 360 on November 23, ordering the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the government peace negotiators to stop all peace talks with the communist group for failing to show “sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged in acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people.”

The Proclamation was issued two days before the peace panels of the government and the National Democratic Front would resume a “discreet” fifth round of talks on November 25 to 27, 2017 in Oslo, Norway.  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)