PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Armed men believed to be communist rebels pounced on a mining company in the southern town of Sofronio Española on Sunday during the intense moments of the fight between Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, burning one of the company’s backhoes.
An official of Citinickel Mining Corp., which is engaged in nickel mining in the area, told reporters here that at least six armed men blocked the road in Barangay (village) Punang and stopped the passing backhoe owned by a mining contractor at around
1 p.m. They introduced themselves as New People’s Army (NPA) members, he said.
They allowed the civilians, including the backhoe driver, to pass through their checkpoint before setting the heavy equipment on fire, he added.
Citinickel, in a report submitted to defense authorities here, claimed that the NPA was trying to exact “revolutionary taxes” from the firm.
A Western Defense Command spokesperson, Lt. Anne Abrigo, said the extortion attempt “was mentioned in the statement of the company employees” but was still being verified.
Lt. Col. Efren Rellores, head of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 operating in southern Palawan, told the Inquirer that the military had been closely monitoring a small NPA group operating in the area. The group usually operates in small numbers going around the villages in the towns of Quezon, Rizal and Sofronio Española, he said.
Sunday’s attack was the third attack launched by the NPA in 18 months. In June last year, rebels raided a security detachment of another company at Brooke’s Point, a town adjacent to Sofronio Española, and an
illegal chromite mining operation on Pali Island, Taytay and disarmed their private security guards.
In Negros Occidental, police intelligence agents arrested a top woman communist leader on a murder charge in Bago City on Friday.
Aniceta Rojo was collared in Barangay Poblacion on the strength of a warrant issued by Judge Renato Muñez of the Regional Trial Court in Cadiz City. She was listed in the police order of battle as a member of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros regional finance and education committees.
Rojo was accused of taking part in the killing of First Lt. Archie Polenzo, a company commander of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in Cadiz two years ago, according to Supt. William Senoron, Regional Intelligence Unit chief for Western Visayas.
She was turned over by her captors to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Cadiz.
Her arrest brought to 21 the number of alleged high profile personalities of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, in Negros Occidental since 2007. Sixteen of them, however, have managed to post bail and have returned to the mountains to continue the armed struggle, military records showed.
On Thursday, rebels killed two soldiers and wounded three others in an ambush n Barangay Rubas, Jaro town, in Leyte.
The fatalities were identified as Pfc. Ariel Cahanap and Pfc. Jacob Bacolando.
The wounded—Pfc. Ron Van Bura-Ay, Pfc. Russel Paderna and Pfc. Gilbert Serdena—were brought to the Ormoc Sugarcane Planters Association-Farmers’ Medical Center in Ormoc. City
Capt. Drandreb Canto, spokesperson of the 802nd Infantry Brigade based in the city, said the soldiers were on patrolling Rubas, 15 kilometers from the town center, when they were fired at by 10 rebels at about 8 p.m.
An hour later, another group of 10 rebels attacked soldiers in Barnagay Atipolo in Albuera town, also in Leyte.
Last year, the military declared Leyte an insurgency-free province, which meant that the number of rebels operating there had diminished considerably and could no longer stage ambuscades significantly. With reports from Carla P. Gomez and Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas