Apolonia Naiz, caretaker of the Farmers’ Institute for National Development (FIND), said she was certain the suspects were members of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion because one of them left an Army cap.
But Lt. Col. Victor Tan, commander of the 39th IB, denied the allegations.
Tan told radio station DXND that there is no reason to attack FIND and its workers.
Naiz said the suspects, armed with M-16 armalite rifles, failed to break in when she and other boarders yelled for help.
“We panicked when they tried to get in by breaking the door’s lock, so we shouted so loud to get the attention of our neighbors,” she recounted.
The armed men then hurriedly boarded a motorcycle.
Aside from Naiz, boarders included the two staff members of a Davao City-based NGO who sought refuge at the FIND office a day after they were arrested by members of the 27th IB last November 2 in Tulunan, North Cotabato.
Lourelie, daughter of Naiz, and Bernadette Solitario of the Disaster Response Center (Direct), stayed at the office to undergo trauma healing.
Naiz said her daughter experienced shock after they were held for more than 24 hours at the headquarters of the 39th IB allegedly on suspicion they were supporting the New People’s Army (NPA).
Naiz said the attempt to break into their office was the third since September this year.
Early September, members of the 39th IB, she said, “forcibly entered” their office and poked their high-powered firearms on them, claiming they were searching for three containers loaded with guns and ammunition left by the NPA.
They also hunted down a certain Lucing whom they said was a top NPA commander who sought refuge in the office.
“We don’t know anything about the containers. There is also no Lucing in our office,” she explained.
Tan dared Naiz to file charges against his men “if she has basis or documents to prove her accusations.”
“I didn’t order the attack. There is no reason for doing that. To make everything in order and in due process, I dare her to file the charges,” Tan said.
Tan has also offered security services to workers of the FIND “to show our commitment to people. We’re not here to destroy the peace. We’re here to maintain order and peace in the area.”