COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The New People’s Army on Wednesday claimed responsibility for last week’s burning of a multi-million chemical sprayer truck of the multinational Dole-Stanfilco banana firm in Makilala, North Cotabato.
In a statement, Macario Dilaab, spokesman of the NPA’s Front 72 for South Mindanao Region, said the attack was part of their campaign against the continuing expansion of big companies in areas where communist rebels operate.
Dilaab’s statement, however, drew flak from the local communities, convinced that NPA guerrillas burned the boom-type sprayer truck of the Dole-Stanfilco due to the firm’s refusal to pay protection money to the group.
The firm employs thousands of poor workers from Makilala and surrounding town.
Last week’s burning of a sprayer truck in Barangay Malabuan, Makilala was the company’s second since early this year.
NPA guerrillas earlier burned down the same type of mechanized banana sprayer equipment in Barangay Kisante, also in Makilala.
Local officials are worried of the NPA’s continuing attacks on the Dole-Stanfilco.
Barangay officials in Kisante and Malabuan accused the NPAs of “peddling lies” by spreading stories that the firm has been exploiting owners of rented lands where it grows Cavendish bananas, and plantation workers under the company’s payrolls.
Local officials also welcomed the efforts of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion to prevent NPAs from getting close to villages where the rebels mulct protection money from both the farmers and local traders. –