Revolutionary taxes imposed by communist rebels in rural areas have led to the closure of operations of several agricultural companies in the countryside, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Wednesday.
"The New People's Army (NPA) are on a rampage extorting money from poor farmers, small businessmen and burning and destroying equipment and properties of big agricultural corporations who refuse to pay the revolutionary tax," Piñol said in a statement.
In a span of a month, banana and pineapple companies operating in Mindanao have reported at least "nine attacks which resulted in the death of seven soldiers and two suspected NPA members and the destruction of hundreds of millions worth of equipment," Piñol said.
"In August last year, Dole Stanfilco was forced to close down its operations in Tagbina, Surigao del Sur which employed about 1,500 poor workers after a series of attacks by the NPAs," he said.
Even poor farmers were not spared from the unlawful taxation as small rubber farmers in North Cotabato were charged by the communists with a monthly payment of P3 for every rubber tree they own.
"That if a farmer has a one-hectare area with 500 trees, he has to pay P1,500 every month," Piñol said.
The agriculture chief said he is scheduled to take up the matter to President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday.
The halt to the collection of revolutionary taxes was one of the conditions set by Duterte weeks before the government resumes talks with the communist rebels.
The Reds, however, were firm that they would not stop collecting revolutionary taxes despite the president's directive.