Kidapawan City – The New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in North Cotabato has extorted close to P100 million from traders, politicians, groups, and individuals since 2013, a top military official here said.
Lt. Col. Nilo Vinluan, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said that the rebels are collecting monthly protection money that ranges from P8 million to P11 million from several establishments and private companies doing business in North Cotabato.
He cited as basis the complaint of the owner of Jargon Construction, a company doing several road projects in Kidapawan City and in Magpet, both located in Cotabato’s second congressional district.
Vinluan said the owner told him that the rebels tried to extort P11 million from them. Since they did not give in to the rebels’ demands, they torched the heavy equipment owned by Jargon, said Vinluan.
City Mayor Joseph Evangelista said such amount could be an equivalent of a percentage the rebels are trying to extort from any road construction company.
“As far as I know, based on intelligence data, the rebels are extorting three to six percent from the total project cost,” said the mayor.
The Jargon company has two major road concreting projects in Kidapawan City, one of which started in 2013.
The first phase, which amounted to P75 million, covered concreting of road from Barangay Mua-an to Barangay Ginatilan.
The second phase that amounted to P148 million covered concreting of road from Barangay Ginatilan to Barangay Ilomavis.
The road projects, according to Evangelista, are located in areas considered as tourism sites.
On Sunday, Jargon’s dump truck and two mixers located at Barangay Mua-an here were torched by some 20 fully-armed NPA rebels.