A Tagbilaran-based businessmen coughed up P20,000 supposedly as “revolutionary tax” for the New People’s Army (NPA), but the money collector’s real identity remained unknown to the victim and authorities.
The victim, Ulysses Arado, 51, said that while he was in Tubigon at 3 p.m. on Friday, a man who claimed to be the new leader of the NPA in Bohol called him on his cellphone and asked for three “baby Armalites” worth P150,000.
“Ako na ang bag ong hepe sa mga NPA dire sa Bohol karon, aduna kami’y dakong kalihukan sa Pilipinas karon mahitungod anang pag deklarar ni Duterte sa Martial Law, nakita namo nga usa ka sa maka afford nga mo tabang para sa among kalihukan,” the suspect was quoted by Arada in his report to police.
“Gusto kami mangayo nimo ug tulo ka “baby armalite” nga nag kantidad ug Php150,000, ayaw lang ka balaka kay safety ra ang imong negosyo ug ang imong pamilya , naa mi karon sa imong tindahan sa Cogon,” he added referring to Barangay Cogon in Tagbilaran.
However, Arada told the unidentified caller that he can only provide P20,000 and not the firearms worth P150,000.
The suspect then gave a tracking number to Arada who in turn directed his employee to send cash worth P20,000 to the Carmen branch of Palawan Express.
Based on the same report to police, a man who identified himself as Raul S. Camba of Carmen immediately claimed the amount deposited by Arada’s employee.
According to Arada, the suspect called again at around 10 a.m. on Monday, but he did not answer.
Two hours later, another call was made by the suspect, but this time to Arada’s office.
The suspect conversed with Arada’s employee who noted that the caller was no longer speaking in Cebuano, but in Filipino.
Meanwhile, the Tagbilaran City police’s intelligence section has started its investigation on the case and is set to coordinate with authorities in Carmen.
The police have also yet to confirm whether the suspect was indeed the leader of the NPA in Bohol or even linked to the communist group.
In July, another suspect who claimed to be with the NPA asked for money from three barangay captains in Baclayon through calls and texts.
The village chiefs contacted by the suspect were identified as Orcesia Israel of Barangay Payahan, Divina Cabahug of Barangay San Isidro and Romulo Caballo of Barangay San Vicente.
According to Cabahug, the suspect called her at 10 a.m. on May 26 telling her that four paid men from Mindanao were out to kill her if the money was not given to them.
Cabahug then reported the incident to police out of fear.
However, none of the text messages were proven to have been from the NPA.
Several instances of scammers using the rebel group’s name to extort money from unsuspecting victims have already been reported in the past while the military has maintained that the province of Bohol is still insurgency-free. (W. Maestrado)