Rebels burn down banana packing plant in South Cotabato
KORONADAL CITY – Suspected communist rebels torched on Tuesday a banana packing plant of a multinational firm in T’boli, South Cotabato.
Authorities said about 30 heavily armed men, reportedly led by a certain “Commander Alfie,” barged into the Sumifru packing plant at about 10:30 p.m., disarmed its three security guards, poured gasoline into the facility and set it on fire.
T’boli town police head Chief Inspector Ramil Villagracia said property damages was estimated to cost about P6 million.
“They appeared to be from the other side of the province, probably Sarangani because they speak in Visayan dialect,” said Villagracia, adding that the suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were seen wearing uniforms of the firm’s security guards.
Villagracia appealed to Sumifru Philippines and other multinational companies and construction firms in T’boli to take stricter security measures as the NPA has intensified its atrocities.
Four days earlier, alleged communist rebels from Kiamba, Sarangani sneaked into an upland village of T’boli and disarmed village watchman Mario Palau, of Barangay Tudok, of his M-16 and Garand rifles.
Villagracia also said that about 20 rebels also barged inside the house of Barangay Tudok secretary Imion Inggo, and at gunpoint, took his carbine rifle and ammunition.
Lt. Colonel Benjamin Leander, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said the NPA in South Cotabato and adjacent provinces have intensified its recruitment and harassment activities in recent days.
He cited the disarming cases in Barangay Tudok where the rebels, led by Commander Rai-Rai of Guerilla Front 73, had been recruiting indigenous peoples as members, and at the same time, gathering firearms from village defenders.
“Commander Rai-Rai is behind the series of burning of buses in South Cotabato after firms refused to shell out revolutionary taxes to the rebels,” Leander said. /kga
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