Saturday, July 31, 2010

NPA rebels torch Dole trucks in Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2010) – Communist insurgents torched five container vans in an attack Saturday in Compostela Valley province in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the vans were owned by Dole Philippine Incorporated, a subsidiary of Dole Food Company, the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, including cut flowers.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said the attack occurred in the village of Camanlangan in New Bataan town.

“Reports reaching authorities state that about 15 fully armed men led by certain alias Ondo of Local Terrorist Front-27 of the New People’s Army were responsible in burning the containers owned by Dole-Stanfilco. Initial investigation conducted by authorities revealed that the motive is the refusal of Dole-Stanfilco to give-in to the terrorists’ extortion demand,” he said.

Dole-Stanfilco operates the banana plantation and exports the fruits to Japan, Korea, China, Hong, New Zealand and the Middle East.

Major General Carlos Holganza, a regional army commander, said the New People’s Army is engaged in extortion activities in Mindanao.

“This is another proof of the consistency of the terrorists’ decadent deeds in sabotaging our economy and making the people suffer. They do not recognize the right of the people to engage in free enterprise and they do not want our country to progress.”

“The only thing they are interested in is the money they can steal from legitimate businessmen, small enterprises and ordinary farmers. The NPA has proven once again that they are the biggest extortion syndicate in the country,” Holganza said.

He said rebel forces also torched farm trucks and construction equipment in the provinces the past months. “The NPA has been involved in many instances of burning of vehicles and facilities to include commuter buses, construction equipment, farm implements and business structures of individuals and companies which failed to give extortion money to the rebels,” he said.

On Friday, rebels also detonated two improvised explosives in Davao City and wounded four soldiers in Paquibato district. The twin attacks came a month after new Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said he would forge a cease-fire and resume peace talks with communist rebels.

Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebel leaders accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners languishing in jails and to put a stop to extrajudicial killings of political activists.

But the Communist Party of the Philippines warned the Aquino government against using the "immediate ceasefire" line as the premise for the resumption of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The Communist Party of the Philippines said it is ready to immediately resume formal peace negotiations based on previously agreed principles and agenda and without any preconditions. If Aquino insists on having peace talks premised on an immediate ceasefire, he will be reducing his peace declarations to empty rhetoric,” the CPP said.

“The CPP challenged Aquino to immediately commence negotiations and abide by previous agreements, including The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which sets the framework, principles, agenda and sequence of the peace negotiations,” it said.

“For the armed revolutionary forces, engaging in peace talks while their weapons are tied up violates the revolutionary principles and virtually holds us hostage. It would be foolish for us to expect to talk on fair and equal terms regarding life-and-death questions with the other side, when we have our arms dropped while the forces on other side have the barrels of their guns pointed at our heads.”

The rebels are fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: