‘Revolutionary Taxation’ and the Logistical and Strategic Dilemmas of the Maoist Insurgency in the Philippines1

Published date01 December 2014
Date01 December 2014
Subject MatterArticles
‘Revolutionary Taxation’
and the Logistical and
Strategic Dilemmas
of the Maoist Insurgency
in the Philippines1
Nathan Gilbert Quimpo
In recent years, Maoist insurgents in the Philippines have intensified their extor-
tion activities through ‘revolutionary taxation’ and through the collection of ‘per-
mit to campaign’/‘permit to win’ (PTC/PTW) fees during elections. This article
examines why the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), through its guerrilla
force, the New People’s Army (NPA), has resorted to, and put greater emphasis
on, ‘revolutionary’ extortion. It analyzes whether greed rather than grievance
has now become the main driving factor behind the Maoist insurgency, and what
the turn to larger scale extortion indicates about the CPP-NPA’s logistical situa-
tion and its revolutionary strategy. The author argues that the intensification of
revolutionary extortion has been brought about by the decline, uncertainty or
political indefensibility of other revenue sources, and by favourable factors such
as high levels of electoral violence and the mining boom. Despite the turn to
extortion, the CPP-NPA has not degenerated into banditry and it continues to
be an ideologically motivated revolutionary force. Rather than demonstrating the
renewed strength of the Maoist insurgency, however, the stepped-up extortion
activities are showing up the insurgents’ serious logistical problems, and continu-
ing strategic dilemmas.
Insurgency, crime, revolutionary taxation, Maoism, Philippines
Claver, Surigao del Norte, 3 October 2011—Over 200 guerrillas of the New
People’s Army (NPA), the armed group of the Maoist Communist Party of
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
1(3) 263–287
2014 SAGE Publications India
Private Limited
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/2347797014551267
Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and
Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan. E-mail: quimpo@dpipe.tsukuba.ac.jp
Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 1, 3 (2014): 263–287
264 Nathan Gilbert Quimpo
the Philippines (CPP), launched coordinated raids on three mining
companies—Taganito Mining Corp., Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. and
Platinum Group Metals Corp. According to the companies’ reports, the
rebels, disguised as policemen, burned down dump trucks, heavy cranes,
wheel loaders, backhoes, passenger vehicles, barges, other heavy equipment
and four buildings, and destroyed or confiscated office computers and equip-
ment. Total destruction amounted to about P3 billion. Furthermore, the
rebels disarmed and divested the firms’ security guards of their firearms.
Major Eugenio Osias, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry
Division, declared that the NPA raids were prompted by the companies’
refusal to pay extortion money—what the rebels term ‘revolutionary tax’.
While admitting that the NPA had indeed asked the firms to pay revo-
lutionary tax, Jorge Madlos, Mindanao spokesman of the rebel alliance
National Democratic Front (NDF), asserted that the attacks were
punishment’ for alleged abuses committed by the companies—
environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous people’s commu-
nities (Navales, 2011; Serrano, 2011).
Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, 20 April 2013—NPA guerrillas exchanged
fire with a convoy of Mayor Ruth de Lara Guingona, the wife of former Vice
President Teofisto Guingona, Jr., killing two of her escorts and wounding
her. The rebels, who had been collecting ‘permit-to-campaign’ (PTC) fees
from candidates campaigning in NPA areas, had set up a checkpoint to
enforce the PTC policy. A gun battle ensued when the convoy refused to
stop. NDF spokesman Madlos later apologized for the incident and explained
that Guingona and her convoy had not secured the rebels’ permission to
campaign in the area. A military spokesman clarified, however, that
Guingona, who was ineligible to run for mayor again, was not campaigning
and was merely going home from a village fiesta (Ramos, 2013a).
Over the past few years, the Philippine news media have published a growing
number of reports about trucks, heavy equipment and buildings owned by mining,
agricultural, telecommunications and construction firms being burned or destroyed
by the CPP-NPA-NDF in various parts of the country—Cordillera, Bicol, Samar,
Negros and especially Mindanao. Military sources and the news media have
attributed the CPP-NPA-NDF attacks to non-payment of revolutionary taxes.
Other firms reportedly victimized by NPA revolutionary taxation include power
plant operators, bus companies, illegal loggers, commercial establishments, and
resort and hotel owners.
The extortion activities of the CPP-NPA-NDF have not been limited to the
collection of revolutionary taxes. During election campaign periods, the CPP-
NPA-NDF demands PTC fees from candidates wishing to enter and campaign in
NPA ‘guerrilla zones’ or areas that the rebel group claims to be under its control.
It also collects ‘permit to win’ (PTW) fees to ensure the victory of the candidate
who has paid PTW charges. According to Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., commander

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