DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 19, 2009) – Philippine communist rebels raided a budget hotel and restaurant and seized weapons allegedly being by its owners to threaten peasants in the southern province of Bukidnon.
Isabel Santiago, a spokeswoman for the New People’s Army Herminio Alfonso Command, said rebel forces also ambushed pursuing soldiers and policemen in the village of Kipolot in Kitaotao town, but there were no reports of government casualties.
She said the rebels raided the Travelers Inn and Restaurant on Monday as a punishment for its owner, the Nietes family, for allegedly threatening peasants in the village.
“The Nietes family was disarmed as punishment for keeping high-powered firearms they used to threaten peasant civilians,” Santiago said.
“Violations of regulations on business operations inside guerrilla territories were the reasons for the punitive action on the Nietes establishment. The action was undertaken mainly to confiscate firearms, of which, one Uzi machine pistol was seized,” she added.
But the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said rebels raided the inn and robbed its owners of more than P20, 000 in cash and a pistol.
Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, an army spokesperson, said the rebels also took a civilian hostage who was later freed. “These people are terrorists who would take advantage of the weak. Troops are tracking down the NPA terrorists,” she said.
The NPA denied Manuel’s accusations and said rebels did not take any money. “As a matter of policy, the NPA do not take cash from punished targets. The allegations of are all lies,” Santiago said.
Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, condemned the raid. “The evil tactics employed by these terrorists show their inhuman and ungodly motives. The use of improvised explosive device as landmine and the use of civilians as human shields are clear violations of International Humanitarian law and against every conceivable moral standard worldwide. More so, robbing a fast food is pure felony.”
“We can clearly see that these local terrorists do not have any ideology at all. They are plain criminals who fester on the weak and take advantage of issues to advance their selfish motives,” he said.
He said the rebels last week also held hostage four civilians, including an 11 year-old girl, and used them as shield against government troops before they ransacked a military detachment in the village of Napungas in Davao Del Norte’s Asuncion town.
The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines which is currently negotiating peace with Manila. The rebels have been fighting the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)