Businesses lose P246M in properties to NPA attacks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 December) — P246.12 million worth of properties owned by businesses in Eastern Mindanao were lost due to attacks perpetrated by alleged New People’s Army rebels in 2015, the military said Wednesday.

In a text message, Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said most of these were construction equipment and facilities.

The EastMinCom could not provide the number of vehicles and properties lost due to rebel attacks.

The biggest amount of damage was recorded in the third quarter at P92.72 million, followed by fourth quarter at P84.11 million, first quarter at P34.71 million, and second quarter at 34.58 million.

But Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao said in a text message that these figures are understated as there are more unreported losses.

“The business sector doesn’t want to report these things because (there’s) no use reporting. The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is not doing anything to solve it,” he said.

In an emailed statement, newly-appointed EastMinCom commander Maj. Gen. Rey Guerrero said the attacks have delayed the delivery of essential services resulted in “sufferings and hardships” among workers who lost their jobs.

“If the CPP/NPA/NDF is sincere about peace and promoting the people’s interest, then they should immediately desist from attacking development projects and legitimate business, which serve the interest and provide gainful employment to our people,” Guerrero said.

He said such acts violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which prohibits attacks against civilians and non-military targets.

The government and the National Democratic Front signed the CAHRIHL in September 1992.

“In light of these atrocities, the Eastern Mindanao Command has directed its forces to institute measures that would enhance the security of vital industries, projects and businesses in its area of operations,” Guerrero said.

He said the troops have been directed to coordinate with local police, local government officials, and security officers to ensure “the security of their respective establishments and prevent any untoward incidents from happening in their communities.”

He called on businessmen to report any extortion activities especially now that the election season is approaching.

“The EastMinCom anticipates a rise in extortion activities especially with the numerous development projects being implemented in the region and with the approaching election campaign season. Also, the NPA has intensified its extortion activities because it has lost its logistical base in the countryside,” he said.

He said the NPA is using money derived from extortion to finance its armed struggle against government.

He appealed to the public to work closely with security and law enforcement agencies to put a stop to extortion by the NPA. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)