Army, PNP launch manhunt vs NPAs who torched banana plantation boom truck

October 8, 2014 6:48 am 

COTABATO CITY, Oct. 7 — Police and military authorities here have launched a manhunt against eight men suspected to be members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) who torched a heavy equipment of a banana plantation in South Cotabato.

At the same time, Senior Supt. Jose Briones Jr, South Cotabato police director, condemned the atrocities by the suspects who bragged they were members of the NPA.

The incident occurred in a remote sub-village of El Bantong, Barangay Rang-ay, Banga where a vast banana plantation owned by Dole-Stanfilco was located.

Quoting a police spot report from Banga PNP, Senior Superintendent Jose Briones Jr., South Cotabato police provincial director, said the spraying equipment was torched by at least eight armed men Monday night.

“Although the suspects introduced themselves as New People's Army, we have to validate it because according to our witnesses their firearms and style were different,” he told reporters.

Briones said gunmen flagged down the heavy equipment way on its way to the banana plantation and ordered its driver John Galvez ang his companion Junie Labuen to disembark and leave.

Their personal belongings, wallet and mobile phones were taken.

The gunmen then poured gasoline into the vehicle, known among locals as Martigani Sprayer, and set it on fire.

But Briones said investigators are also looking at other angles of the incident.

He said aside from involvement of the NPA, police are looking at possible link between the burning and the robbery incident on October 5 reported to the Bangsa PNP.

Of the four involved in robbery, one was the driver of sprayer truck of Dole Stanfilco.

“We are also looking into the possibility that it was also connected to the earlier reported theft incident in Banga, wherein five personnel of Dole Stanfilco where arrested while stealing a container of BAYCOR chemical," Briones said.

Following the incident, police and military personnel were deployed near the plantation work area to prevent similar attacks in the future. (PNA)

LAP/NYP/EOF

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