KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/04 September)– North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza condemned Wednesday the latest attack launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Makilala town, citing the terror it sowed among residents in the area.
“We condemn this act to the highest degree. We consider this atrocity part of the terrorism launched by a particular group where some 700 workers of the rubber processing company in Makilala and their families had become collateral damages,” said Mendoza during her weekly radio program “Serbisyong Totoo” aired over dxND.
Mendoza said the atrocities in Makilala perpetrated by the NPA rebels also killed a civilian and a soldier and caused the displacement of families (see related story: 80 families flee, soldier killed as AFP, NPA clashed in NorthCot) from four sitios (hamlets) in Barangay Cabilao, a village adjacent to Barangay Talun-Talunan where the torching incident of the rubber processing plant of the Standard Rubber Development Corp. (Standeco) took place.
The NPA attack in Makilala was the third in the province since August, the governor said.
On August 19, the NPA rebels torched the heavy equipment of Sumifru Philippines, Inc. in Matalam town, she said.
A week later, the communist guerillas also burned a heavy equipment used in a road construction project of the Department of Agriculture-12 in Arakan town.
“These attacks have affected our efforts to sell the tourist spots of North Cotabato to local and foreign tourists,” said Mendoza.
Makilala hosts the 2.3 kilometer zipline, reputedly the longest zipline in Asia.
In Arakan town, efforts have been underway to construct rice terraces, similar to the one in Banaue in Ifugao.
Tourist arrivals in Alamada town due to the majestic Asik-asik waterfalls have also increased dramatically since it was discovered last year.
“We’ve been trying hard to generate employment because of our existing tourist spots. We’re also into developing our tourism potentials. But these NPA atrocities have become a challenge to my administration and to the local government units,” she stressed.
Also, the NPA attacks in North Cotabato have caused so much damage in terms of capital investments, Mendoza said.
The cost of the facilities and heavy equipment destroyed by the NPA rebels was estimated at P40 million.
Mendoza also castigated Ka Efren, spokesperson of NPA Front 72, who said they burned the facilities of Standeco because of the firm’s alleged monopoly of the province’s rubber industry.
The NPA rebels have yet to react to the pronouncement of Mendoza.
The Standeco owns the biggest processing mill in the province, according to Mendoza.
This does not mean, however, that Standeco monopolizes the pricing of the rubber products, she added.
Mendoza noted there are many factors why rubber prices declined since 2012, one of them the law of supply and demand.
If demand is low and supply is high, prices naturally tend to go down, she said.
“Also, it has been a challenge to the rubber industry in North Cotabato to produce quality products that could compete with those produced from Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia,” Mendoza said. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)