Communist rebels raided a rubber processing plant and killed its manager before torching the facility in North Cotabato province in Mindanao, officials said on Monday.
Officials said workers also pleaded to the New People’s Army to spare the plant owned by Standard Rubber Development Corporation in the town of Makilala, but had been threatened by the gunmen.
At least 20 rebels were involved in the attack, according to Capt. Albert Caber, of the Eastern Mindanao Command.
“Civilians witnessed that NPA entered the compound and poured gasoline on the buildings before setting it on fire. The NPAs fled after the incident,” he said, quoting an army report.
The SRDC is one of the largest producer and exporter of natural rubber in the Philippines.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz 3rd, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, has ordered troops to track down the rebels. “I directed grounds troops to intensify security operations against the NPA to prevent similar incidents from happening and to protect the local industry,” he said.
Cruz also urged villagers to reject the NPA, but the locals said the rebels are constantly threatening them.
Lt. Col. Noel dela Cruz, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, sent to pursue the rebels said the NPA has been extorting money from the firm. “The burning by the NPA is very much painful to the workers who will be losing their jobs because of this incident. Extortion demand is the motive behind the attack,” he said.
The NPA is fighting for a separate state in the country. AL JACINTO