5 NPA rebels nabbed after attack on mining firm
TAGUM CITY—Five suspected communist rebels were arrested following Saturday’s attack on a nickel mining firm in Mati City in Davao Oriental province, police said on Monday.
Senior Supt. Harry Espela, Davao Oriental police chief, however, declined to release the identities of the five suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), but said lawmen seized explosives from them.
Espela said charges had been filed against the rebels, who were turned over to the Mati City police.
The arrests were made during police and military operations following the NPA attack on Asiaticus Mining Corp. in Barangay Macambol in Mati at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Espela said some of the arrests were made in Barangay Dawan, an entry point to Barangay Macambol, where explosives were found in a safe house.
Fifteen heavily armed rebels attacked the compound of Mil-Oro Mining Corp. and its general contractor, Frasec Ventures Corp., on Saturday. They disarmed security guards there and torched several vehicles as they fled, said Chief Insp. Leonilo Lad, Mati City deputy police chief.
The nickel mining firm has a claim over 5,000 hectares of minerals-rich land between two ecologically protected areas—
the marine sanctuary of Pujada Bay and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-recognized biodiversity haven, Mt. Hamiguitan.
Espela said the rebels also burned several structures in the firm’s compound, including a staff dormitory.
In a statement, Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA Southern Mindanao spokesperson, said the attack was a “punitive action” for what he claimed as the company’s “environmentally destructive operations.”
“(This) is a stern warning against large-scale and foreign mining companies that not only exploit our nonrenewable resources but also victimize our people in the name of [profit],” Sanchez said. —FRINSTON LIM
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