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Deprived coco farmers as target of NPA extortion an ‘open secret’

12:58 AM May 11, 2016

I came across a letter in a back issue of the Inquirer. Titled  “Chance for NPA to prove propoor concern” (Opinion, 12/9/15), the letter highlighted the New People’s Army’s extortion activities targeting coconut farmers in Camalig, Albay, causing them to live in deeper poverty and fear for years.

This wrongful, unlawful act of the NPA is an open secret in Masbate and it is not an isolated case. There have been a number of commentaries and news items in national broadsheets, local dailies and broadcast media about NPA extortion.

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I hail from the province of Masbate, considered one of the poorest provinces in the country. Aside from too much politics, the unresolved insurgency problem is stunting the province’s economic growth. Just like the coconut farmers, some residents of Barangay Mabini, San Jacinto, Masbate, though not direct victims are adversely affected by the NPA’s harassment.

Last March 22, 12 NPA rebels forcibly stopped the ongoing dam and irrigation project in my place. If indeed they are propeople as they proclaim themselves to be, why then are they doing such barbaric acts that push more Masbateños deeper into the pit of misery?

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Coupled with Masbate’s violent politics, the farmers-victimizing extortion activities of the NPA make me pity my place, my province, the beautiful island of Masbate. Worse, the impact on the Masbateños who are going to benefit from the project is not one-time but long-term.

—ANDREA BUSTAMANTE, Baleno, Masbate

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TAGS: Albay, Camalig, Coconut farmers, extortion, Masbate, New People’s Army
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