Sunday, March 28, 2010

NPA rebels raid DOLE campsite in Philippines

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 28, 2010) – Philippine Maoist rebels raided a pineapple plantation in the southern island of Mindanao and destroyed equipment after a failed extortion, security officials said Sunday.

Officials said New People’s Army rebels stormed the village of Guinhalinan in Surigao del Sur’s Barobo town late Saturday and destroyed four excavators and two bulldozers owned by a sub-contractor of DOLE Philippines, Inc.

“Armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army’s Guerilla Front 14 swooped down on DOLE’s camp site and burned four backhoes and two bulldozers. The burning was related to DOLE’s refusal to give in to the extortion demands of the New People’s Army,” said Army Major Michelle Anayron, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division.

Dole Philippines is a leading multi-national company that operates fully integrated agricultural and industrial facilities, with a 24,000-acre base plantation, two cannery complexes, with a can and packaging and fresh fruit plants; shipping and wharf operation with a box and labels plant. It has an additional 18,000 acres of grower farms within the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani in Mindanao and employs almost 6,000 regular employees.

It was the second attack by the rebels in two days. Some 50 communist rebels on Friday also raided the village of Luz in North Cotabato’s Mlang town and killed a government militia and wounded two more before ransacking an army detachment and seized 35 assorted high powered weapons.

Major General Mario Chan, the regional army commander, branded the attack as terrorism and ordered troops to track down the rebels.

“It has been a pattern for the New People’s Army to extort money from legitimate companies. Those who refused to give money are punished by the New People’s Army – they target top management officers for liquidation or burn their equipment like what the New People’s Army did to DOLE Philippines,” he said. “This is clearly an act of terrorism; indeed kidnap-for-ransom is what separates the New People’s Army from the Abu Sayyaf.”

The Abu Sayyaf has been linked by Philippine authorities to the spate of terrorism and kidnappings of wealthy traders in exchange for ransom. It is also tied by authorities to the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror groups.

The NPA is fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Government peace talks with rebels collapsed in 2004 after communist negotiators accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several humanitarian agreements, among them the release of all political detainees in the country and to put a stop on extrajudicial killings of activists opposed to Arroyo’s rule. (Mindanao Examiner)

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