ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels have destroyed a rubber tree plantation after farmers rejected extortion demands in the province of Surigao del Sur, the army said Friday.
It said some 15 New People’s Army rebels swooped down on the village of Bacolod and chopped off trees and uprooted thousands of seedlings. The farmers belong to the Bacolod Upland Farmers Association, according to Captain Alberto Caber, an army spokesman.
He said the farmers sought help from the army and asked for deployment of patrol in the area to protect them from future rebel attacks.
“I thought they are pro-poor. Why did they chop off the future source of our livelihood? Why do they attack civilians and our simple properties?” Caber quoted one of the farmers as allegedly saying.
Caber accused the rebels of human rights violations. “This is another human rights violation of the NPAs,” he said.
He said Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, also condemned the targeting of civilians by rebel forces and that he ordered troops to intensify the operation against the NPA, which is fighting for a separate communist state.
There was no immediate statement from the NPA about the accusations of the military.
Last month, rebels also raided a Communist rebels raided a rubber processing plantation owned by the Standard Rubber Development Corporation and killed its manager before torching the facility in North Cotabato province also in southern Philippines. The SRDC is one of the largest producer and exporter of natural rubber in the Philippines.