Military says NPA extortion behind harassment of North Cotabato rubber firm

April 30, 2015 6:22 am 

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, April 29 — The military here believes the arson attempt on a rubber firm in Makilala, North Cotabato was related to the communist rebels' extortion activities.

About 10 armed men barged inside the Santos Development Corporation, a banana firm in Poblacion Makilala, North Cotabato at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Capt. Aldrin Moral, 39th Infantry Battalion spokesperson, in an Army report, said the suspects attempted to set on fire several hauler trucks of the company but balked out when they learned police and Army personnel were on its way to the site.

But the gunmen managed to disarm the lone security guard of his 12-gauge shot gun.

Moral said the firm had been receiving extortion letters demanding "protection money" from Santos Development Corp. But the firm ignored the demand.

Several firms operating in Makilala, North Cotabato had been subjected to harassment like strafing, burning of company equipment for refusing to give in to the NPA demands.

An Army intelligence officer who worked for the surrender of rebels told reporters the NPAs in North Cotabato have turned to massive extortion activities on multinational firms as mass base support have dwindled.

Last week, the NPAs harassed the Parma Rubber firm in Barangay San Vicente, Makilala, North Cotabato. Seven men posed as applicants for the rubber company and entered its warehouse in Barangay San Vicente.

Once inside, the men pulled hand guns and disarmed the security guards. They threatened the employees of more attacks if the demand for protection money is repeatedly ignored.

They fled with two security guard rifles and two-way hand held radio sets.

After the early morning attack, the rebels set off a roadside bomb a kilometer away from the rubber firm warehouse. The IED blast, described by the military as command detonated IED, injured two civilian commuters.

Moral said the IED was intended for soldiers and policemen who will respond to the NPA attacks. It was planted on road leading to the firm's warehouse from the national highway.

The soldiers and policemen had just passed the dirt road when IED was set off.

Moral urged banana firms and business establishments in Makilala not to give in to NPA extortion activities and seek protection from police and military. (PNA)

LAM/NYP/EOF

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