NORTH COTABATO, Philippines – Guerrillas belonging to the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) on Monday, April 20, raided a rubber processing plant in Makilala, North Cotabato and carted away the company guard’s M-16 rifle, several 2-way radios and a still undetermined number of handguns.
The rebels did not harm security personnel of the company.
But 2 civilians were hurt when the rebels exploded a land mine that narrowly missed a police car with officers sent to investigate the attack. The victims were immediately brought to the hospital by a resident near the explosion.
James Zamora, who lives near the plant gate, said he was surprised by a loud explosion that was followed by bursts of gunfire at about 7 AM Monday.
Zamora said residents near the plant noticed two motorists stopping by the gate of Farma Rubber Processing several times 4 days before the attack.
Farma, owned by one Boni Tan of Davao City, is located in San Vicente, Makilala – some 7 kilometers away from the town center going to Tulunan town, also in North Cotabato.
The NPA rebels are believed to belong to the Front 72 command of the Far South Regional Party Committee of the communist rebel movement.
Not the first time
In 2013, armed men belonging to the same rebel guerrilla front swooped down in the same village and totally burned down the Pacheco family-owned Standard Rubber Development Corp. (Standeco), one of the biggest buyers of rubber in Mindanao.
More than P150 million worth of property went up in smoke.
Ka Efren, spokesman of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Cotabato provinces, said they raided Standeco for alleged violation of workers’ rights and for failure to pay revolutionary tax.
The rebel attack in North Cotabato came barely a week after another NPA unit also raided the armory of the mining company owned by Monkayo Mayor Jose Brillantes.
At least 74 assorted firearms including 3 M-60 light machineguns and an RPG rocket launcher were seized during the Monkayo rebel raid last April 14.
Only over the weekend, chief NDF political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the rebels are open to a longer ceasefire during a time-bound peace negotiations.
The NDF is the political umbrella of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the latter’s armed component – the NPA.
The Philippine government has yet to issue a statement regarding the rebel offer for a resumption of the on and off peace talks with communist rebels.
Peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NDF were suspended in 2013 after the rebels demanded the release of arrested senior cadres of the CPP-NPA, among them alleged chair Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma. – Rappler.com
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