NPA raid banana firm, wounds 6 guards
KIDAPAWAN CITY—Six security guards of a multinational banana company were wounded when New People’s Army (NPA) rebels fired rifle grenades at the firm’s processing plant on Thursday.
Senior Supt. Maximo Layugan, North Cotabato police director, said the rebels first fired two rifle grenades around 8:45 p.m. at the work area of Lapanday Banana Group of Companies at the village of Dallag in Arakan town, North Cotabato.
It was followed by a series of automatic fire from the attackers, triggering a brief gun battle when the security guards returned fire.
The rebels fled deep into the forest when soldiers and police responded, according to Senior Insp. Jose Mari Molina, Arakan town police chief.
“It was harassment by NPAs because the firm ignores extortion demand from the rebels,” Supt. Bernard Tayong, speaking for the provincial police, told the Inquirer.
“It is always like that. If rebels extort or demand revolutionary tax from multinational companies they resort to burning of equipment or harassment,” Tayong said.
The injured guards were identified as Jerry Cansico, Ramar Embay, Naseran Embana, Joel Algocoy, Nelson Ampugo and Christoval Felix.
Layugan has ordered police to be deployed to the area.
Rebels were ready to heed a truce declaration by their leaders for the holidays, but Jose Ma. Sison, Communist Party of the Philippines founder, said rebels would be on an “active defense” posture because the Duterte administration refused to declare a ceasefire for the military.
Sison said communist rebels would have wanted to peacefully end the five decades of armed rebellion, but President Duterte and government forces had only themselves to blame for the failure of peace talks.
Sison issued the statement after presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the government wanted a “permanent truce” with communist rebels and not only a short lived ceasefire during the holidays. —With a report by Delfin T. Mallari
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