Rebels stay at a retreat house prior to attack-A A +A
By Nef Luczon
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
THE daughter of one of the persons hired by New People’s Army (NPA) in its operation against Del Monte Philippines and Dole-Stanfilco in Bukidnon said the rebels stayed at a retreat house near the Mount Kitanglad range before the attack happened Tuesday night.
The rebels attacked Del Monte and Dole’s plantation offices and truck yard in Camp Phillips, Bukidnon, Tuesday, killing one security guard and wounding two others. The rebels also burned several heavy equipment owned by Del Monte.
A 37-year-old truck owner (name withheld upon the request of family members) told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that on February 18, inside Gate 3 of the Macabalan port in Cagayan de Oro, a young woman named “Lorna,” in her 20s, asked him if she can hire his six-wheeler truck to get vegetables from Barangay Dahilayan in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, the next day, February 19.
The truck owner accepted Lorna’s offer. She promised to pay him P5,000.
The truck owner’s daughter recalled that her father left their house in Barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City past 10 a.m. of February 19, thinking he would be transporting vegetables, as what Lorna said. Little did he know that he would be hired for the operation of the NPA against Del Monte and Dole-Stanfilco later that night.
“I heard him calling (to Lorna) before he left our house that they would meet somewhere in Gusa to pick up her other colleagues, those he said were two men,” the daughter said in the vernacular.
She recalled that her father promised to return that night. Later, he called up her mother and asked them to pray that everything will be alright.
She said that based on what her father told them over the phone around 7 p.m., there were more than a hundred people believed to be members of the NPA, mostly young.
There were also 39 other drivers and truck owners just like her father who were hired for the rebels’ operation that night.
The daughter said before the siege took place within the premises of Camp Phillips, some rebels and the drivers “checked in” at a retreat house near the Mount Kitanglad range, which he identified as part of a palm oil plantation owned by A. Brown Company.
“They (rebels) assured my father that they will not harm them because they are not involved,” the daughter said.
She said past 8:30 p.m., the rebels left the retreat house and paid his father P5,000 as promised.
“My father and the rest of the truck drivers and owners were safe yesterday (Wednesday) morning inside the retreat houses when joint forces of the military and police came,” she said.
It was learned that most of the hired drivers came from Iligan City.
Based on reports, the NPA rebels hired three vans and two elf trucks, which were reportedly recovered by elements of the Bukidnon provincial police.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 21, 2013.