Philippines: February 7, 2004


The communist NPA rebels are getting unexpected competition from criminal gangs. The publicity given the government program to fight NPA's extortion of politicians ("pay us to avoid being attacked while you are campaigning") has led to criminals, pretending to be NPA, approaching politicians with extortion demands. Some of the crooks have been caught, because they didn't realize that the NPA extortion was only going on in some areas that have long been subject to NPA attacks and activity. When criminals try the NPA angle in other areas, the candidates have been calling the police and some of the extortionists have been caught. It is also believed that the extent of NPA extortion demands was limited, and that the media has hyped the story for the usual competitive reasons.


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