Rebels hold Negros farm workers hostage
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—Suspected New People’s Army rebels held hostage 25 farm workers and their children as well as four security guards of an hacienda in Kabankalan City for almost 10 hours starting late Wednesday night, according to an Army officer.
Colonel Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said the rebels burned a tractor and the warehouse of Hacienda Isabel, which is owned by the family of the late Kabankalan Mayor Pablo Sola in Barangay Camansi.
The ranch is located about 15 kilometers from the Kabankalan City center but only three kilometers from a police station.
“It was a traumatic experience on the part of hostages, especially the children,” Aying said Friday.
Police investigation showed that the raiders, five of them women, beheaded some sheep on the farm.
The raiders disarmed the farm’s four security guards of three shotguns and a .38-caliber revolver.
None of the hostages was harmed.
Superintendent Salvador Dagoon, Kabankalan police officer-in-charge, admitted in an interview on MBC Aksyon Radyo that they arrived at the hacienda at about noon Thursday, almost 12 hours after the rebels occupied the farm at 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Asked about the delayed response of the Philippine Army soldiers and policemen, Aying said they were “cautious” because the modus operandi of rebels was to ambush government troopers responding to such incidents.
In May last year, five Army soldiers were killed in an ambush as they were responding to an incident of arson committed by NPA guerrillas on the outskirts of Sipalay City. The rebels took the soldiers’ weapons.
Soldiers of the 47th Infantry Battalion were pursuing the rebels involved in Wednesday night’s raid on the Kabankalan hacienda, officials said.
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