About 50 NPA rebels stormed the house of a banana grower and seized weapons from security guards after overpowering them late Wednesday in Buhangin district in the outskirts of Davao City. The rebels also raided the Lapanday banana plantation and RTQ construction firm in Buhangin and torched equipment and trucks.
Police and military said there were no reports of casualties or injuries and that security forces were pursuing the raiders. “We have dispatched additional police forces in the area to protect civilians from future attacks by rebels,” said a regional police spokesman, Chief Inspector Querubin Manalang.
Government troops were also deployed to track down the attackers, led by Leonardo Pitao, said Lieutenant Colonel Roland Joselito Bautista, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
“We have deployed more troops to hunt down the NPA terrorists headed by Leonardo Pitao who were responsible for the attacks,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Last week, the rebels also raided a banana plantation owned by Dole Makilala town in North Cotabato province. Rebels also raided a drilling site of the Sagittarius Mines in Davao del Sur's Kiblawan town on July 19 and carted away a dozen firearms from the firm's arsenal.
The NPA said the attack was a punitive action against the banana plantation’s alleged encroachment into the cultivated farmlands of small farmers and indigenous tribes and for the injustices inflicted on its workers by militarizing their legitimate mass protests, and suppressing their leaders.
Rebels have vowed to launch more attacks against government and military targets in the southern Philippines where thousands of troops are battling the NPA, which is fighting for a separate Maoist state the past four decades.
Communist leaders broke off peace talks with the Arroyo government in 2004 after accusing Manila of reneging on its commitments to free all political prisoners and to put a stop to political killings, among others.
The United States and the European Union on Manila’s prodding listed the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, including its political arm, the National Democratic Front, as foreign terrorist organizations and froze their assets abroad. (Romy Bwaga)