Press Release
June 25, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to protect businessmen and other civilians from the reported extortion activities of the New Peoples Army is good but they should not be made to pay for it.

Pimentel said civilians who live in hotbeds of communist insurgency are wary of requesting the AFP to provide them security because they are usually made to shoulder certain expenses of government soldiers.

The order is only good if troops will not impose their presence on the businessmen and civilians concerned. Many who are in need of protection from lawless elements have refrained from seeking it because they have to pay for the sustenance of those securing them, the lone senator from Mindanao said.

Its like having boarders living with them but free of board and lodging fees. I hope that it will not be the case now.

Pimentel also cautioned Malacañang on its order to the AFP to clamp down on people who provide money to the NPA in the form of financial and material contributions and so-called revolutionary tax.

Before taking such course of action, he said the authorities must make a distinction between civilians who give financial contributions to the NPA guerillas because they subscribe to a common cause and those who are forced to pay the revolutionary tax for fear of deadly reprisals from the rebels.

He said it would be a big mistake if the military will harass and punish innocent people whose only fault is to pay the revolutionary tax after being threatened with physical harm by the NPA and who could not be protected by the government.

Pimentel said these hapless victims of NPA extortion should be treated with understanding and sympathy by the authorities, saying it would be a terrible mistake if they are made targets of government retaliation.

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