MANILA, Philippines, May 23 (UPI) -- Communist rebels in the southern Philippines have threatened to attack mining companies, including Toronto Ventures Inc. operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Jorge Madlos, a spokesman for the New People's Army -- the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines -- also warned soldiers and policemen from protecting mining firms which he said are plundering natural resources, a report by the Manila Times said.
Madlos said to avoid "the unnecessary loss of lives" the police and military should stop protecting the property of mining companies and their employees.
Federal government security forces were "defending the interests of plundering mining companies like Toronto Ventures Inc. and other vested interests of the ruling class that pay you with people's taxes," Madlos said.
The CPP along with its NPA was declared a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State in 2002.
The CPP has "the aim of overthrowing the Philippine government through guerrilla warfare" and the NPA "strongly opposes any U.S. presence in the Philippines and has killed U.S. citizens there," the State Department said.
TVI Resource Development, a Philippine subsidiary of TVI, repeatedly has denied accusations by rebels that it is exploiting the land and natural resources without protecting the environment, the Manila Times report said.
The police and federal government also have been fighting the rebel practice of extorting money -- so-called tax collection by rebel groups -- from mining companies in exchange for not attacking them.
The practice has led to deadly turf wars among rebel groups and criminal gangs competing with each other for mining company payments, the military have said.
"Extortion is becoming a franchise among various communist rebel groups," army spokesman Col. Antonio Parlade said last May after clashes between rebel groups over payments reportedly killed nine guerrillas.
"In resource-rich Davao area [on Mindanao], numerous bandit groups have established their so-called guerrilla fronts to share the enormous sum collected from gold mines and large farms," he said.
Some mining companies pay the military and militia armies for protection.
Earlier this year, the 1st Infantry Division in Zamboanga del Sur pulled out all its militiamen guarding TVI properties in Bayog town after its memorandum of agreement with the mining firm expired, the Manila Times reported.
The 1st Infantry Division said it would have to review the agreement. TVIRD pays for the salaries of the government militias who are members of the militia Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary.
Last October the Philippine army started recruiting around 150 militiamen to serve as special security detail for the three mining companies in Surigao Del Norte, the Inquirer News reported.
The arrangement came after around 200 NPA members raided Taganito Mining Corp., its sister company Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. and Platinum Group Metals Corp., the Inquirer News report said.