A Philippine Army official on Thursday casted doubt on the reported extortion allegedly carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA) to collect money from a Tagbilaran-based businessman last week, saying it is unlikely that communist rebels were behind the crime.
According to 302nd Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Matanguihan, Barangay Booy resident Ulysess Arado who coughed up P20,000 supposedly as “revolutionary tax” for the NPA was likely a victim of a modus operandi.
Although purported sightings of unidentified armed men in various towns had surfaced in the previous months, Matangguihan maintained that Bohol is still insurgency-free, debunking the suspected extortionist’s claim that he is the new NPA leader in the province.
On Friday last week, Arado reportedly received a call from a man claiming to be the new leader of communist guerrillas in the province.
Arado said while he was in Tubigon, the suspect called him on his cellphone and asked for three “baby Armalites” worth P150,000.
“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,” the suspect was quoted by Arada in his report to police.
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.
Although in doubt that it was indeed the NPA which extorted money from Arada, Matanguihan said that they will still conduct an investigation to indetify whether the collection was made as revolutionary tax for the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing or just part of a modus.
He also warned the public to be wary of such crimes urging them to immediately report these to authorities.
However, Matanguihan admitted that it would be difficult to trace the suspect who extorted money from Arada particularly if the caller used a cellphone which was immediately disposed after the amount was collected. (Allen Doydora)