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Rebels raid firms of Lorenzo clan

/ 01:33 AM April 30, 2017
Smoke still billows from a building of the Lapanday Food Corp. in Mandug, Davao City, attacked by the NPA.—ARJOY M. CENIZA

Smoke still billows from a building of the Lapanday Food Corp. in Mandug, Davao City, attacked by the NPA.—ARJOY M. CENIZA

DAVAO CITY — Communist rebels stormed three companies owned by the family of former agriculture chief Luis “Cito” Lorenzo Jr. here and in Davao del Norte early Saturday, wounding three persons in the attacks.

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson for Southern Mindanao of the New People’s Army, said rebels conducted the raids on Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) in the village of Mandug in Buhangin district, Lorenzo Ranch in the village of Pangyan in Calinan district and Maconday Plastic Plant in Panabo City.

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Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte immediately condemned the attacks, branding them as “acts of terrorism.”

“We condemn these acts committed by a group that pretends to champion social justice and equality,” the mayor said.

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More than 100 rebels

City police said more than 100 rebels stormed LFC’s guard house and barracks in Mandug and Lorenzo Ranch in Calinan past 3 a.m.

Senior Insp. Ma. Teresita Gaspan, city police spokesperson, said security guards and a fish vendor were injured during the attacks from automatic rifle fire and explosions of improvised explosive devices.

The head of LFC’s security force, Alex Lubasa, was held by rebels for about three hours and released as the rebels fled.

Chief Insp. Andrea de la Cerna, Southern Mindanao police spokesperson, said the attacks were simultaneous.

Rebels disarmed security guards and seized their firearms, said De la Cerna. Rebels, she added, set fire to equipment at the LFC offices in Mandug.

Abandoned vehicles

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Senior Supt. Marcial Magistrado, Davao del Norte police chief, said policemen found in Panabo City a vehicle that the rebels could have used in the attacks—a Mitsubishi L-300 van that had been burned as the rebels fled.

Three abandoned vehicles were also found near the burning van.

Quoting a village official, Magistrado said armed men, some wearing ball caps marked with “NBI” and green police uniforms, abandoned the vehicles.

Sanchez, the NPA spokesperson, said the attacks were the NPA’s way of punishing the Lorenzo family for “their numerous crimes against agricultural workers, peasants and lumad.”

Personal insult

The Lorenzo-owned LFC said it would later issue a statement on the attacks.

Mayor Duterte said she took the attacks as a “personal insult” because they happened despite the local government’s full support for the peace process between the government and the rebels.

To people “caught in the violence, we commiserate with you and your families,” the mayor said.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said soldiers conducting pursuit operations in the village of Pangyan recovered the body of a rebel, an Armalite rifle and unexploded bombs.—ALLAN NAWAL, FRINSTON LIM

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TAGS: Lapanday Foods Corp., LFC, Luis Lorenzo Jr., New People's Army, Rigoberto Sanchez, Sara Duterte
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