Philippine governor seeks military help to prevent maoist rebels' harassment
Government forces board a military truck after Islamist militants, who had holed up in a primary school, retreated after a gunbattle with troops but were holding some civilians hostage, in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, Philippines June 21, 2017. Reuters

A Philippine provincial governor has brought to the attention of the Regional Development Council (RDC) that a group of armed militants believed to be members of the New People's Army are threatening contractors and workers implementing government-funded projects in the province of Samar.

Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan-Delos Santos said that she wanted the military and police to increase their presence in the province especially where the government's peace infrastructure projects are implemented.

The Philippine government has introduced the PAMANA program, a national plan that will provide infrastructure projects in identified provinces that will promote lasting peace and development in the area.

Some contractors reported to the Office of the Provincial Governor that NPA rebels are extorting and threatening contractors involved in the construction of PAMANA infrastructure projects.

PAMANA program manager Imee Calagos Bonifacio also reported that communist rebels are also demanding at least 10% of the total amount of the infrastructure projects. According to Bonifacio the NPA was demanding the amount as a revolutionary tax to be turned over to their organization.

Samar Province was a recipient of infrastructure projects worth USD 994 thousand to address poverty which according to the government is the root cause of insurgency.

The region is known to be the breeding ground of communist armed fighters in the Visayas Island. The Philippine government earlier started holding peace talks with the NPA leadership but cancelled several times because of their questionable sincerity.

The Philippine government reported that despite the continuing peace dialogues, NPA rebels continue to harm its soldiers and police forces in the country.