Despite the ceasefire declared by both the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in August, the rebels are still extorting and kidnapping people in the areas of Sarangani and Davao, according to the Army.
“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 National Democratic Front in Norway which is to have an atmosphere of peace while peace talk is going on,” Lt. Col. Ronnie Babac, commanding officer of the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion, said in a statement.
Last Tuesday, a barangay councilor from Barangay Datal Anggas in Sarangani was abducted by five communist rebels led by a certain @L3 at Sitio Kalugbo in the same village. He was released last Thursday in exchange for P50,000 to be paid by Sunday, Oct.2, the statement added.
The Army also claimed that based on reports from residents, the rebels had been inviting businessmen and store owners for a dialogue and demanding cash from them.
Last Sunday, a certain Mr. Calibay and Mr. Baan, also identified as barangay councilors from Datal Anggas, were invited by Arnel Culano, a known NPA sympathizer.
They were brought to Sitio Tangis of the same village for a dialogue with communist rebels supposedly led by an alias Joey. When the two men arrived, Joey threatened them that they would be killed if they would not give the group P25,000 each and M16 rifles.
The demand was supposed to serve as payment for a tip to government forces that led to an encounter last February, resulting in the recovery of high-powered firearms and the deaths of a certain Brigol, an NPA leader, and six others.
Last August, a store owner in Barangay Little Baguio in Davao Occidental, identified as Mr. Ompong, said he was invited by the communist rebels for a dialogue in Sarangani province. After the meeting, he was not allowed to leave until he paid P20,000. Ompong’s companion, whom he asked to go home and get the money, was able to produce only P12,000, but the rebels still released the businessman.
The next round of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front will be held on Oct. 6 to 10, less than two months after the resumption of the peace talks.