MANILA - Common criminals in the Philippines are passing themselves off as armed Maoists to extort money from businesses and tarnish the reputation of the guerrillas, the rebel leadership said on Sunday.
Extortion, or what they call "revolutionary taxes", has long been a tactic employed by the rebels during their decades-old guerrilla campaign in the Philippines to fund their movement.
The Communist Party of the Philippines warned its forces would undertake "prompt and decisive action" against anyone posing as a member of its armed wing, the New People's Army.
It accused the military and police of teaming up with "criminal syndicates" to "engage in nationwide extortion activities and use the name of the New People's Army in their nefarious activities."
It said extortionists pose as rebels to "send out crudely worded threat letters demanding money from small- and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and even rank-and-file employees and ordinary people without distinction."
The party added in a statement to news agencies the objective of the criminals was to "tarnish the NPA's reputation and isolate it, and at the same time pocket the monies themselves."
There was no immediate reaction from the government.
The statement said that the communists' "revolutionary taxes" are "for the benefit of the socio-economic and overall interests of the people, especially in the revolutionary mass base areas."