If there is any time in our recent history when terrorism is at bloom, it could be today — or maybe this is due to the international awareness brought by the world wide web that allows us to see global panic.
Amidst the campaign to curb the rise in terrorist attacks, we were stunned that a wealthy country like Qatar, could have contributed to this and thus, isolated. No matter how much the country denies its terrorist involvement via funding, the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) believe otherwise.
But given that there are indeed groups and individuals in Qatar that do fund some rebel factions and the Government seems toothless to mitigate this, has it occurred that maybe they could have been victims of forced financing too?
The Qatar crisis just shows that forced financing could be a global issue. Even in a thriving country like the Philippines, businesses are also forced into this scheme via blackmail.
Both small business owners and big companies, even those of foreign origin, are extracted money by local rebels, particularly by the New People’s Army (NPA). These businesses just couldn’t reject the demand as some who did were attacked.
We could look into this as both extortion and bribery. Some just accepted this practice that they have thought of it as another business fee they call “Revolutionary Tax.”
This has been going on in the Philippines for at least the last decade that companies are paying between Php 10,000 to millions. In fact, this phenomena was featured in international news, too as early as 2004. It may have been culturally normal but still considered illicit.
The Philippine Government does not deny the existence of this.
Currently, part of the peace talks going on is the plead to stop this type of extortion. This means that it is considered illegal.
Nevertheless, the leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the leading rebel group in the country, has cleared that their army, the NPA, has the right to impose revolutionary tax among businesses within their territory.
It is alleged that this tax goes to societal improvement such as charity works and establishment of schools. But if it were for development, why do they attack those who refuse to pay? Toppling down of mobile towers and burning of buildings and transport utilities are some of what they did.
Additionally, this revolutionary tax is more than a one time obligation. Once they start paying, they continue collecting. And who knows where they really take the money.
If the business owners really do not have a say in this, the more they do not have the right to pry on their money’s movements.
It could be a possibility that money collected would be used for beneficial work however, it cannot be denied that some rebels make use of banks and other charitable institutions for money laundering. When this happens, the money can no longer be tracked or accounted for its illegal roots.
Front Line Victims
But going deeper into this circumstance, do we really need to blame the forced financiers? Do we punish the Government for not doing anything to stop this? Some businessmen try to refuse; they do so at the expense of their own safety. As such, front line victims, too.
We can see here that these alleged financiers do not have the intent to support terrorist acts. They are just subjected to it. But we cannot discount the Government’s effort in putting a stoppage to this thru the law with RA 10168 or the Terrorist Financing and Suppression Act of 2011. But if ever a business is found to have been coerced into funding, can we really hold them liable?
Here is the rub: maybe the reason forced financiers keep on doing what they do is because they find the Government unprepared to give them full security against a possible NPA attack.
Moreover, the country’s attempt to peace via mediated discussion might also be serving as a barrier for full terrorist funding refute. In order for the leftist to agree to a mutual accord, the Government needs to plea.
But why is it that in these Peace Talks, the Legal Government seems to be the underdog when it should be the other way around?
Considering this, does the extorted really have the power to decline? And if they did, can the Government protect them?
If the answer was easy, this could have been stopped years ago. Not just in the Philippines but anywhere in the world. Thus, we should be careful with our judgments as we may not be aware of the inciting state of affairs.
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