NPA rebels torch rubber plant in N. Cotabato

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Captain Raul Villegas, spokesperson for the Army's 10th Infantry Division, in a phone interview, confirmed the incident and identified the dead victim as Hector Lalaguna, the plant manager, while wounded was identified as Francisco Undap, Jr.

Makilala police reported the casualties were employees of the Standard Rubber Development Corp. (SRDC) owned by one Butch Pacheco. The plant is located in Barangay Taluntalunan in Makilala town.

Damage in the attack was placed at P10 million.

The SRDC is one of the largest producer and exporter of natural rubber in the Philippines.

"Accordingly, a loud explosion was heard after the plant was torched. The explosion was believed to be from an improvised landmine or improvised explosive device (IED), either gilabay or gibutang daan sa area," Villegas said.

Witnesses told the police that the rebels entered inside the rubber company's compound and poured gasoline before setting the plant on fire.

The employees pleaded not to burn the processing plant because it is the source of living of 600 workers, but the rebels did not mind them.

Lalaguna's body was brought in a nearby funeral home in Makilala, while Undap is undergoing treatment at Makilala Provincial Hospital.

A source from Cotabato police, who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak, said the Makilala police initial investigation showed that extortion is believed to be the motive behind the incident.

Police said there were reports that the Pacheco family, who owns the rubber firm, refused to give in to the demands of the NPA Guerilla Front 51 SMRC leading to Sunday night's attack.

The police added that they are still conducting further investigation to identify and determine the whereabouts of the perpetrators.

Lt. Col. Noel Dela Cruz, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion based in Cotabato, said he have already deployed their troops to conduct pursuit operation against the communist rebels involved on the incident.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 03, 2013.

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