Army checking on alleged NPA extortion in Leyte

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Col. Dino Dolina (left), commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, has started operations to confirm reports that NPA rebels are into extortion activities in Leyte.

Tacloban City (CNN Philippines) - Leyte government troops are verifying reports of extorion exercises carried out by the New People's Army (NPA) victimizing provincial politicians and private contractors.

Col. Dino Dolina, commander of the Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade, shared this with Leyte Gov. Leopolod Petilla in a recent meeting with the Leyte Peace and Order Council.

"I received some information that there [are] extorion activities going on and we are confirming these," Dolina said.

Such activities of the NPA have been confirmed by Bohol and Cebu officials, and Dolina said they might continue as election time approaches.

Influential and wealthy families are known to reside in the western to the central part of Leyte, where the members of the NPA are concentrated.

Petilla said that a breakdown in peace and order is more likely in poor areas.

Dolina added that the rebels were seldom encountered in the province, as 87 out of 189 villages have been declared as NPA-clear areas.

The provincial government aims to clear 102 villages by the end of this year.

These villages are in the towns of Carigara, Burauen, and Albuera, and also in the cities of Baybay and Ormoc.