In his recent vow to crush and destroy communist rebel groups and their legal fronts, President Rodrigo Duterte is strategically right to direct part of the government’s attention to eliminating the apparatus of “revolutionary taxation,” which has served as one of the major reasons for the persistence and longevity of the communist insurgency in the Philippines.
This addresses not just the military threat, but also the economics of the Communist insurgency. Revolutionary taxation is plainly a CPP-NPA method of extorting money and resources from corporations and commercial farms, particularly in the countryside. It has been employed without letup and as a matter of policy by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army. They have used it as a tool to raise several billions of pesos every year to fund the operations of their organization and political fronts. They add to this reasoning the pious claim that the illegal money is being extorted from companies and families that defraud or steal from the people in some way.
Despite previous denunciations of revolutionary taxation by business leaders and government officials, no previous administration has succeeded in stopping or eradicating the communist practice.
Duterte issued his vow at a media interview on Saturday, shortly after his arrival in Davao City from his visit to India.
During the interview, DU30 minced no words in declaring that he would “crush and destroy” communist rebels and their “legal fronts,” and then stressed that the government’s peace talks with the communists are definitely over.
He was particularly incensed by the NPA. He said, “Itong NPA, totodasin ko talaga sila. Tatapusin ko (This NPA, I’ll crush them, I’ll annihilate them). The talks are over. No more talks.”
He then disclosed that he would also run after the “legal fronts” of the NPA that collect taxes from businesses, and promised to give its financiers “a hell of a time.”
He sent a tough message to financiers and secret supporters of the NPA: “Prankahan tayo. Nagbibigay kayo. Pero ‘pag nahuli ko kayo…” (Let’s be frank. You give [in to their extortion.]But if I catch you …) I’ll give you a hell of a time.”
He called attention to mining firms that pay extortion money to the NPA. “Kayo nagbibigay ng malaki (You give huge amounts). I’ll just cancel your permit. I’ll tell Environment Secretary [Roy] Cimatu to cancel your permit. You are funding an organization which is bent on destroying our country.”
Duterte said that he is just waiting for a decision by the Supreme Court on the formal designation of the NPA and CPP as terrorist groups: “Pag lumabas `yan (Once that decision comes out) we will move to really crush the insurgency.”
The President has signed a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA a terrorist organization due to its “violent acts … which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”
The Department of Justice (DoJ) must still obtain court approval in officially declaring the CPP-NPA as terrorists in accordance with Republic Act 9372, or the Human Security Act, which lays down acts that are defined as terrorism.
The DoJ said early this month that it was preparing the petition.
Some legal experts believe that the CPP-NPA policy and practice of revolutionary taxation is incontrovertible proof of their terrorist activities in the country. Many companies and businesses can testify to the menace, albeit under threat of harm.
Given a communist insurgency that now has persisted in the country for almost half a century, the President’s decision to “crush and destroy” the CPP-NPA is logical and necessary. By highlighting the role of evolutionary taxation in funding the insurgency, the administration could truly break the back of the insurgency during its watch.