MANILA, Philippines—Between 9,000 and 10,000 chickens were roasted Friday when alleged communist insurgents torched the poultry farm of a businessman in Zamboanga del Sur who had supposedly refused to pay them protection money, the military said Saturday.
A statement issued by the Army’s 1st Infantry Division said the attack was carried out by the New People’s Army under the Mindanao Regional Party Committee, which had allegedly been demanding P60,000 monthly from poultry farm owner Onyx Go.
The incident took place at 12:30 a.m. Saturday in Barangay (village) Dalaon, Molave, in Zamboanga del Sur, according to Captain Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.
Caber said some 9,000 to 10,000 chickens were housed in the two poultry houses that the rebels allegedly set on fire. Losses were estimated at P3.5 million to P4 million.
A witness to the incident said that seven armed rebels, including a woman wearing a bonnet, entered the compound at around midnight, frisked farm workers and confiscated their cellular phones.
Some of the armed men poured gasoline around the buildings and, 30 minutes later, set them on fire.
Quoting Go, the military statement said the NPA extortion unit called the businessman by phone after the fire to warn him to pay up so that his farm would not be burned again.
Caber said the area had been cleared of communist insurgents but lately, “their extortionists” have returned to harass businessmen.
“The NPA has been asking money from [Go] for a long time. Last year, they held up his ‘lechon manok’ business in Poblacion Molave. After that they would call him up to demand [money],” Caber said.
The incident prompted 1st Infantry Division commander Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III order intensification ordered tighter security measures to prevent a recurrence of the arson and alleged extortion, the statement said.
“We must intensify intelligence operations and maximize information-sharing with the PNP counterparts and other stakeholders,” Cruz said.