14 quizzed after NPA attacked Lorenzo clan’s businesses in Mindanao
DAVAO CITY – Fourteen persons, including a woman, were detained for questioning by authorities during operations to hunt down about 100 communist rebels who attacked several businesses owned by the Lorenzo family in Southern Mindanao on Saturday, officials on Sunday said.
Ten of the arrested were released after police verified their identities as members of the Lorenzo firm’ security forces, authorities said.
Soldiers conducting clearing operations also recovered two bodies of alleged rebels in the upland district of Calinan, hours after the 3 a.m. simultaneous attacks at the compound of Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) of the Lorenzo family in Barangay Mandug, about 15 kilometers north of the city proper; and the family’s farm in Pangyan village in Calinan District, in the southern party of the city, said Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
A wounded suspected rebel was also captured and turned over to the police, he said, adding that security forces recovered an assault rifle and improvised explosives in Pangyan.
While the attack in Mandug was raging, another band of rebels also torched the Macondray plastic plant in Tagpore village, Panabo City in Davao del Norte.
A security guard from Lapanday, Reynaldo Talamaque, was wounded after a brief firefight ensued, while a fish vendor was also hurt after an improvised explosive device targetting responding army troops went off in a road in Mandug around 5:45 a.m., Senior Insp. Teresita Gaspang, Davao City police spokesperson, said.
In a statement, the LFC said the armed attackers ransacked the plant offices and stole employee mobile phones, computers and other company properties.
“The company reported it was fortunate no employees who were working at the time of the incident were harmed or injured. All of the company’s personnel are safe,” LFC said.
The firm said the rebels disarmed the guards on duty before torching the firm’s box and plastic plants.
The firm said it would cooperate with authorities in the investigation of the “criminal act” even as it called on the military and police to prevent the perpetrators from further “endangering the safety and security of people and inflicting damage to private property.”
The banana firm also warned the attack could adversely affect the livelihood of its hundreds of employees and disrupt others who have business with LFC.
“It is they who are now jobless and shall bear the brunt of the consequences of this vicious act,” LFC said.
Batchar said 10 of the arrested were released on Sunday after it was found out they were indeed part of Lapanday’s security force. Earlier, they were apprehended at an army checkpoint on board a pickup truck— with seven of them, including six in security guard uniforms, armed with shotguns and a .9mm pistol.
Four other “suspicious persons” with muddied clothes and rain boots on, were also arrested and still being held for further questioning, Batchar said.
The regional and military leadership condemned the attacks, calling these as “senseless, selfish and desperate.”
“Their acts clearly (show) utmost disregard to existing laws and human rights, contrary to what they are trying to project with their propaganda. The attacks were also meant to embarrass the government as (these were) staged at a time when the city is scheduled to host important events,” Southern Mindanao police and the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command said in a joint statement.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also slammed the attacks as acts of terrorism and “a personal insult” since the city government has been supportive of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NPA’s political umbrella, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). SFM
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