NPA rebels attack Dolefil, burn heavy equipment

Edwin G. Espejo
NPA rebels attack Dolefil, burn heavy equipment
Dole Philippines' lawyer Rene Almero says no one was hurt and investigation is underway

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Armed men believed to be communist guerrillas attacked a pineapple plantation in Maasim, Sarangani and burned 3 heavy equipment owned by Dole Philippines (Dolefil) on Saturday, November 21, according to the military here.

Col. Ronald Villanueva said 3 suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) flagged down one of the vehicles and siphoned fuel from the tank which they used in torching one bulldozer, a tractor, and a ‘Saddam’ truck owned by the pineapple company.

Villanueva said the attack happened at 9 am Saturday in the sub-village of Blat in Amsipit, Maasim town.

No one was hurt, although police sent to investigate the area said the NPAs were armed with an AK-47, an M-16 armalite rifle, and a .45 cal pistol. 

There was no immediate statement from Dolefil although lawyer Rene Almero, legal counsel for Dolefil, later denied earlier reports 3 company guards were killed in the attack.

“Per our security manager, nobody was hurt and the incident is already being investigated by Maasim PNP,” Almero said in a text message.

Villanueva, commanding officer of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade here, believed the attack was a ploy to divert attention away from ongoing operations by government soldiers belonging to the 27th Infantry Battalion against the NPA. 

“They could be feeling the pressure or they did not get what they wanted from the company,” he added in a telephone interview. 

He said the attackers were monitored to have withdrawn towards the direction of the nearby border town of Tboli. 

“The NPAs are holed up in the tri-boundary of Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani and Tboli in South Cotabato,” Villanueva added.

The attackers are believed to be member of the Front 73 guerrilla unit of the NPA.

Maasim is a former hotbed of the communist rebel movement until setbacks forced the NPAs to abandon its third guerrilla front in the Far South Mindanao Regional Command in the mid-2000s.

They, however, are making a comeback over the last 2 years where former University of the Philippines Mindanao Student Council chair Rendell Ryan Edpan Cagula, who joined the NPAs, was slain along with 3 other rebels in an encounter with government soldiers in November 2014. –

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