NPA denies “extortion” in Samar, hits military’s scheme to monopolize infrastructure projects at the expense of civilian contractors

The Efren Martires Command of the New People’s Army (EMC-NPA) in Eastern Visayas today denied allegations it is extorting from key infrastructure projects in Samar, as claimed by the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Office of the Presidential
Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). “The 8th ID and OPAPP are making claims of NPA extortion without a shred of evidence to justify the corrupt scheming of the military to seize lucrative projects from civilian contractors,” said Ka Karlos Manuel, EMC-NPA spokesperson. “The 8th ID is already salivating over the hundreds of millions worth of contracts, on top of the opportunity to buttress their brutal militarization of the countryside.”

He noted from the Duterte government’s statement that these Payapa at Masagang Pamayanan (PAMANA) infrastructure projects include “the PHP71-million bridge construction in Motiong, Samar; PHP114.7-million box culvert construction in Las Navas, Northern Samar; and PHP192-million road construction also in Las Navas town.”

The EMC-NPA spokesperson clarified, “As a matter of policy, the NPA does not attack or disrupt public works projects and public utilities since this will inconvenience the masses. This is true even though the NPA is also aware that PAMANA projects, which are under OPAPP, mainly serve as government propaganda showcases alongside the militarization of poor rural communities.

“It is another matter, however, if the 8th ID will take over key infrastructure projects in Samar. By doing so, the Duterte regime
shows it is doing away with feigning to deliver government services and is aligning these instead with the ‘whole-of-nation’ approach of
‘counterinsurgency’ program Oplan Kapayapaan. The whole-of-nation approach means the military directly intervenes in local government and in socioeconomic projects. This is already being laid down with appointing retired generals to civilian posts such as Interior Sec. Eduardo Año, Social Welfare Sec. Rolando Bautista, and now outgoing armed forces chief Carlito Galvez to OPAPP himself. This wholesale militarization of the civilian government is preparatory to Duterte’s plan to impose nationwide martial law to attack the people’s resistance, squelch all political opposition and monopolize power and corruption in serving the imperialists and the local reactionaries.”

Ka Karlos Manuel warned that if the military will take over the infrastructure projects in Samar, they will be attacked as combatants
by the NPA. “Military engineering units are armed and serve as comba support to their fellow soldiers and are therefore regarded as legitimate targets. The NPA will not hesitate to attack military engineering units that support combat-intel-psywar operations conducted by so-called peace and development teams or PDTs and other units of the 8th ID that commit human rights violations and sow terror among the peasant communities. The people themselves will see the legitimacy of NPA offensives against these military engineering units.”

The EMC-NPA spokesperson called on the people to unite against the corrupt and anti-democratic scheming over the military’s takeover of infrastructure projects in Samar. “We call on the people to expose and oppose the imposition of military authority over civilian functions,
the ongoing militarization of the countryside and the creeping authoritarianism of the Duterte regime. Let us unite against the state
terrorism, puppetry and corruption of the Duterte regime and thoroughly isolate, weaken and overthrow it.”

NPA denies “extortion” in Samar, hits military’s scheme to monopolize infrastructure projects at the expense of civilian contractors