ZAMBOANGA CITY -- New People's Army (NPA) rebels torched Saturday five container vans of a banana plantation in a hinterland village of Compostela Valley, a military official said.

Major General Carlos Holganza, commander of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, said the five container vans owned by Dole-Stanfilco were burned by 15 fully-armed communist rebels led by a certain Ka Ondo of Local Terrorist Front-27 (LTF-27) of the NPA.

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Initial investigation revealed that the motive of incident, which took place around 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the village of Camanlangan, New Bataan town, Compostela Valley province, is the refusal of Dole-Stanfilco, a subsidiary of Dole Philippines, to give-in to the NPAs' extortion demand.

Holganza deplored the incident as another “unlawful and immoral act” perpetrated by the communist rebels in Compostela Valley.

He said the burning of the five container vans was the latest atrocity committed by the NPA rebels in the southern Philippines.

Last Sunday, an armed group believed to be communist rebels swooped down on the Dole Philippines plantation in Sitio Kubayan, Malaybalay City and disarmed the company's security guards. They then burned two farm vehicles and fled with weapons seized from the guards.

In June, farm trucks and equipment were burned to ashes by the NPAs in Tulunan town, North Cotabato where they also robbed horses, poultry products, and kitchen wares.

Last March, two trucks and container vans were also burned by the rebels in Maragusan town also in Compostela Valley.

In January, the NPAs burned a compactor and a dump truck of a construction firm in the village of Sibahay in Boston town, Davao Oriental.

Also in January, suspected NPA rebels torched a farm truck and farm products in the remote village of Tiburcia in Kapalong town, Davao del Norte.

Holganza said investigations showed that the motive in all burning incidents is the refusal of business entities and individuals to give extortion money to the communist rebels. (Bong Garcia/Sunnex)