MANILA, Philippines – Mining companies will soon have to make a difficult choice: suffer from attacks by the New People's Army (NPA) or face government sanctions.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, November 21, warned mining companies and other groups paying revolutionary tax to stop giving in to demands of communist rebels or else he would shut them down.
"If you continue to support them financially, I will close you down. In the interest of the security of the state, all those funding the NPA, we will trace you," said Duterte at the Ang Huling Tikas Pahinga event in Taguig City.
Before this warning, Duterte explained how big mining companies "without exception" pay taxes to the NPA, allowing the rebel group to "thrive." (READ: Suspected NPA rebels kill CAFGU member, abduct 2 cops)
"All mining companies are paying taxes to the NPA. That's without exception. And the NPA would not thrive if the companies didn't give it," said Duterte in a mix of English and Filipino.
Back in February, Duterte ended peace talks between the government and the communists, represented by the National Democratic Front (NDF). Given this state of affairs, he said everybody else has to reconsider their approach to the NPA.
"We have to decide once and for all. If I go against the NPAs, everybody has to reconfigure their relationship with the NPAs," said the President.
The NPA is known to impose revolutionary tax on businesses operating in the countryside, like mining companies and plantations.
The communist rebels are said to threaten such businesses with destruction of property if they fail to pay the tax. (READ: Duterte eyes proclamation tagging CPP-NPA as 'terrorists')
In his Tuesday speech, Duterte again emphasized his decision to end talks with the communists.
But he had an additional order to chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello III and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.
"I told Dureza and Bello, you tell the guys there in the Netherlands, I'm no longer available for any official talk. Let's just go to war," said Duterte. (READ: Military agrees NPA should get 'terrorist' tag) – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.