Troops confirm private armies-rebels ties in Samar

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Philippine Army confirmed the conspiracy between the New People’s Army (NPA) and private armed groups in perpetrating violence and extortion in Samar province.

Major General Raul Farnacio, the Army’s 8th Infantry Division commander, said on Thursday that private armies are typically composed of “moonlighting” members of communist rebels.

The army official said that aside from extorting businessmen and politicians in Samar province, lawless groups has been receiving financial support from rich politicians as payment for “neutralizing” political rivals.

Some politicians regularly supply food to private armies and rebels, said Farnacio. They are also provided with high powered firearms, handguns, grenades, communication equipment, and medical treatment for the wounded.

“Whether they call it extortion or protection money, the fact remains that it comes from those in power. This all boils down to money because they have to sustain their operations,” he said.

The money makes some private army and NPA leaders in Samar wealthy, Farnacio said.

Task Force Cagasmas, a group of army and police directed to disband the private armies, has identified 132 private armies in Samar with concentrations in Calbayog City, Sta. Margarita, San Jorge, Gandara, and Matuginao towns.

The official admitted that it’s very challenging to disband private armed groups because of protection, but this is possible with the full cooperation of residents. (PNA)