Rebels attack pineapple plantation in Bukidnon

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


CAGAYAN DE ORO -- Undetermined number of armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) stormed the main office and plantation of Del Monte Philippines in Camp Philips, Bukidnon, Tuesday evening.

Radio reports said the rebels, numbering about 100, burned the company’s equipment and engaged in a firefight with the security guards of Del Monte.

One security guard identified as Alfredo Neri, a resident of Miranda, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, and under Cadre Security Agency, died while two guards were injured. A civilian was also reportedly wounded in the crossfire.

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One of the wounded security guards is identified as Mario Ayuban. They were rushed to the hospital inside Del Monte but were transferred to Capitol University Medical City in Cagayan de Oro.

The wounded civilian identified as a certain Mario said over Magnum Radio that around 10 armed men, who wore military uniforms, asked him if he is an employee of Del Monte. When he said no, he was told to lie down.

Mario, who was hit in his legs, said an exchange of gunfire occurred between the rebels and the company’s security guards.

He said the rebels ordered them to give their cellular phones.

“Ang mga civilian gipang-abog ug gipalayo,” he said.

Reports also said police authorities from Alae in Manolo Fortich also engaged in a firefight with the rebels.

At the national highway, NPA rebels allegedly blocked Atugan bridge in Impasug-ong town using a bus owned by Rural Transit of Mindanao Inc. and held military and police authorities who were supposed to provide reinforcement.

Spikes were also reportedly scattered in the national highway, affecting some passing vehicles.

Ka Oris, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Mindanao, confirmed over Magnum Radio that NPA rebels belonging to the North Central Mindanao were responsible for the attack.

He said the rebels simultaneously attacked at 6 p.m. the main camp of Del Monte Philippines and Dole plantation in La Fortuna, Impasug-ong town.

“The main target of the coordinated attack was the equipment and main office of Del Monte Philippines. This is to send a message and to demand for Del Monte to stop their operation tungod kay sila ang major cause sa kadaut nga nahiagoman sa katawhan gikan kang Sendong. Ang main cause sa delubyo sa Sendong mao ang logging ug gidugangan sa pineapple plantation. Ang mga loggers wala na diha, apan ang padayon nga nagpabilin mao ang dako nga kumpanya sama sa Del Monte ug Dole. What the NPAs did is to give justice to all victims of Sendong,” Ka Oris said.

He did not confirm the number of NPAs but said “enough to launch a simultaneous attack in both the plantation of Del Monte and Dole.”

Ka Oris said the attack would not be the first as the revolutionary movement is planning to launch more attacks to Del Monte and Dole in the future if they still won’t stop their operation.

He said they were saddened about the reported death of a security guard.

“Gikasubo kaayo namo. Dili man unta angay mamatay ang walay labot. Pero kaning Cadre mga abusado, mga bangis nga mga security guard,” he said.

Ka Oris also asked for understanding for those who were stranded in the national highway.

“Among ihangyo nga unta masabtan ninyo nga kabahin kini sa operation aron mababagan dayon ang military reinforcement. Wala kini gihimo aron madisturbo mo kung dili kabahin kini sa operasyon,” he said.

Ka Oris added that the rebels have confiscated around 10 assorted firearms and denied any casualty on the part of the NPA, citing the “rebels are all accounted for and are now in safer places.”

Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares, acting chief of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), said in a radio interview that more or less five equipment of Del Monte were burned by the rebels.

Mijares said the Philippine National Police is now in full alert not only in Bukidnon but all over the region. “Because of what happened, we are on full alert,” he said.

He said Cocpo personnel were dispatched to clear the highway from Alae in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon toward Barangay Puerto in Cagayan de Oro after receiving reports that massive spikes were scattered on the road.

“We are here in the area to see what we can do to help,” Mijares said.

Ka Oris said that burning the equipment of Del Monte is the only practical way to stop the operations of the company even just for a few days.

He denied that the movement is demanding for revolutionary taxes from Del Monte. “Wala namo gikinahanglan ilang kwarta. Ang among hangyo lang nga mo-evacuate sila.”

As of 11 p.m., Mijares said all is clear in the national highway but police personnel are still manning checkpoints near the area. (Terry Betonio/Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

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