NDF claims attack on police outpost
KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/22 March)—The communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels’attack on a police outpost in T’boli, South Cotabato last Wednesday was intended as a “punitive action” for the presence of multinational companies in the area, a rebel official said Friday. The attack came a month after the NPA attacked Del Monte Philippines, Inc. in Bukidnon on February 19.
In that attack where a security guard was killed, National Democratic Front spokesperson Jorge Madlos said it was a “punitive action” against the MNCs. “Ka Efren,” spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Far South Mindanao Region, said members of the NPA Front 73 carried out the offensive.
“That’s a well-carried out plan while the military was busy scouring the mountains for our troops in the boundary of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani. That police outpost was a vulnerable target,” he said in an interview over Bombo Radyo Koronadal. Around 20 NPA rebels carried out the daring attack noontime Wednesday aboard an Isuzu Elf truck, leaving a member of the Civilian Volunteer Organization wounded. NPA says attack on T’boli police outpost punitive action vs MNCs
The NPA spokesperson admitted that one of the communist rebels who attacked the police outpost was killed in the ensuing firefight that lasted for about 15 minutes. Immediately after the February 19 attack in Bukidnon, Madlos had warned of more attacks if Del Monte and other agribusiness companies do not heed their call for moratorium of expansion of plantations.
“If they agree not to expand their areas, we might reconsider the attacks,” he said. “Ka Efren” said the attack showed that the NPA still has a presence in South Cotabato, contrary to the claims of the military that they have flushed out the communist rebels from the province. He said the attack was a warning to multinational firms Dole Philippines, Inc. and Sumifru Philippines Corp, which he accused of monopolizing large tracts of lands in the area.
Dole and Sumifru operate pineapple and banana plantations, respectively, in the upper valley portion of South Cotabato that includes the towns of T’boli, Surallah and Banga. He also said the attack should serve as warning to local politicians, singling out South Cotabato First District Rep. Daisy Avance Fuentes, who is running again for governor. “Ka Efren” said Fuentes has economic interests with these multinational companies with her trucking services allegedly contracted to them.
In a separate emailed statement issued Friday afternoon, the NPA spokesperson accused Fuentes of actively and directly participating in the implementation of the “devious and anti-people counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.” She facilitated the rapid expansion of Dole Philippines and Sumifru in the towns of Banga, Surralah, T’boli and Lake Sebu 12 years ago, he said. The NPA spokesperson added that “at the expense of the local populace especially the peasant masses,” Fuentes, then Governor, allegedly in collaboration with the 27th Infantry Battalion and the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, unleashed “Oplan Purple Heart,” which according to him was the local version of Oplan Bantay Laya, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counterinsurgency strategy now replaced with Oplan Bayanihan.
“The NPA in South Cotabato vows to continue carrying its tasks of defending the peasant masses and other poor people of the province against the continuing intrusion and landgrabbing of big local and multinational agri-corporations and mining companies and as well as against the onslaught of Oplan Bayanihan,” he warned.
Rebels attack construction firm in Davao
DAVAO CITY – Suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) burned down three heavy equipment owned by a construction company based in Davao City Thursday night. The communist rebels first struck at the Jameetrix Construction’s compound at around 7:45 p.m. on Kilometer 14, Diversion Road in Panacan and burned two backhoe loaders and a payloader.
The caretaker of the place identified as Leonardo Margallo Ondaloc said four unidentified men on board two motorcycles set the equipment ablaze. Ondaloc said one of the attackers introduced themselves as members of the NPA before pouring gasoline into the equipment. An hour later, two alleged members of the NPA burned down a playloader also owned by Jameetrix at its compound on Kilometer 6, Diversion Road in Buhangin Gallera. The firm is owned by one Allan Zamora, a resident of Spring Village in Ma-a.
The estimated worth of damage in both equipment burning and the motive behind the incidents are still being investigated by police authorities. Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director, Senior Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa, said extortion could be the motive behind the attack. “Extortion siguro ang motibo sa mga suspect kay basig naa sila kinahanglang gikan sa biktima. Padayon lang gihapon ang among pagimbestiga sa krimen (Extortion may have been the motive of the suspects since they may have demanded something from the victim. The investigation of the crime is still ongoing)” dela Rosa told Sun.Star Davao.
Dela Rosa said they will monitor any NPA activities within the metropolis and will be more alert to prevent any further incidents. He also said they will coordinate with the military to intensify their preemptive measures against any rebel insurgency within the city.
Prisoners clubbed with batons at Abu Ghraib prison
Baghdad Central Prison, previously known as Abu Ghraib, continues to be rocked by prisoner abuse scandals. An amateur video showing inmates being beaten up has been leaked onto the Internet. These prisoners have been described as Sunnis. This has fed sentiments by Sunnis that they are being discriminated against in a country largely ruled by Shiites, which continues to be shaken by civil unrest. A detainee reportedly filmed the images on his mobile phone on March 13.
In the video, security forces are seen rounding up dozens of inmates in the prison’s courtyard and then striking them with batons. When contacted by the television channel Al Jazeera, one of the detainees explained that the people in charge at the prison called for security forces to help them quell a protest movement started by the prisoners. In the interview, he hinted that the movement was started by Sunnis. According to the Justice Ministry, a demonstration did take place a few days earlier, on March 11.
The ministry released a statement saying that “detainees accused of terrorism” set fire to a room at the prison “in order to attract media attention on prisoner rights.” On March 21, following the video’s publication, Iraqi authorities opened an inquiry into the prisoners’ mistreatment. Back in November, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights had denounced cases of sectarian violence against detainees at Baghdad Central Prison.