DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 May) – Two rebels were killed in a clash with security personnel of a cattle ranch and banana plantation in Barangay Pangyan in Calinan, Davao City owned by the Lorenzo family, the New People’s Army (NPA) said Sunday.
In a statement, NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez congratulated the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion for “serving the punishment against the Lorenzo family”.
Sanchez claimed the ranch “coddles criminal elements and counter-revolutionary fanatics who are employed by the despotic Lorenzo clan to protect its anti-people business interest.”
The rebels attacked the ranch and plantation at around 3 a.m. Saturday, an hour after they raided a box plant in Mandug and Macondray Plastic Plant in Bunawan which are also owned by the Lorenzos, he said.
At around 2 am, he said rebels wearing National Bureau of Investigation uniforms attacked the box and plastic manufacturing plants of Lapanday Foods Corp. in Barangay Mandug.
“The NPA disarmed security guards and gutted down the company’s compound along with its equipment. Seized firearms included 13 shotguns, two caliber .45 pistols, eight caliber .38 pistols and 9 UHF radios. Red fighters also hit the reinforcement troops of Task Force Davao with command-detonated explosives in the nearby Brgy. Tigatto at around 5 am,” he said.
One hour later, the rebels raided the ranch and plantation and seized one caliber .30 sniper rifle, two M16 rifles, six shotguns, three caliber .22 rifles with scope, vests and magazines, ammunition and military radio. They suffered two casualties in a clash with the company’s security personnel.
It was in this ranch where late Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, commander of the NPA, arrested retired M/Sgt. Jose Manero, chief of security for Lapanday, on May 11, 2008, the statement said.
The NPA claimed Manero revealed “the company’s numerous violations on human rights, including the killing of several plantation workers, in its bid to ensure huge profit and expansion of its operations.”
“The NPA’s annihilative and punitive action against the Lorenzos in Davao City serves as revolutionary justice for landless tillers and exploited workers of its banana plantations and manufacturing plants in the region,” it said.
In a statement Sunday, National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana condemned the attacks, calling the communist rebels “anti-progress, anti-development, and anti-people”.
Lorenzana said the attacks “confirmed without a doubt their terrorist designation” and questioned their sincerity to work for peace as it appears everything is “just lip service and double talk”.
“Dito po natin makikita ang totoo nilang anyo (It only shows us who they really are),” he said, noting that the attacks occurred even as the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) are talking peace.
Both sides have terminated early this year their unilateral ceasefire declarations issued last year over mutual accusations of bad faith and insincerity. They are yet to agree on a proposed bilateral ceasefire.
Lorenzana said the NPA wanted to “cow the entire nation into subservience by sowing fear and violence. Iyan lang ang alam nilang gawin (That’s the only thing they can do).”
He said the “atrocities” reveal the “disconnect and lack of communication” between the NDF, Communist Party of the Philippines, and its forces on the ground.
“We cannot stress enough that for the peace talks to succeed, government must be talking to the real representatives of the communist movement. There must be an assurance that we are dealing with the actual leaders of their organization and not just some figureheads who are devoid of any control or influence,” he said.
Lorenzana called on the Filipino people to continue “resisting and condemning the communists who challenged President R. Duterte’s resolve to bring peace and build a nation that is worthy of the Filipino people”.
In a statement, Lapanday said the attacks will lead to the displacement of hundreds of employees and adversely affected those who have existing businesses with the box and plastic plant.
“It is they who are now jobless and shall bear the brunt of the consequences of this vicious act,” it said.
It said no employees were harmed or injured during the attacks but their mobile phones, computers, and other properties of the company were stolen.
The company called on the “Philippine National Police (PNP) as it investigates this latest criminal act of this armed group the company urged law enforcement agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to exert effort to prevent these unidentified elements from further endangering the safety and security of people and inflicting damage to private property.”
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also scored the attacks, calling them an “act of terrorism”.
But in a statement Monday, the Pambansang Katipunan ng mg Magbubukid (PKM), called the mayor an hypocrite.
PKM, a member of the NDF, said the mayor’s husband, Mans Carpio, is a legal counsel of Lapanday.
“We can only expect that a GRP local chief executive who has vested interest in the companies of a landgrabbing comprador-landlord to be the latter’s spokesperson and defender,” the group said.
“Sara Duterte hardly made noise when Lapanday’s armed goons opened fire and wounded nine unarmed civilian peasants three days after the latter’s land occupation of the landgrabbed Lapanday banana plantation in Tagum City last December,” it said.
“Duterte also supported the appointment of PNP Supt. Alexander Tagum as Davao City Police Chief, the same fascist police officer who led the massacre of barricading El Niño victims in Kidapawan City in April last year.
“Thus, for Sara Duterte to claim the NPA’s assault in the Lorenzo-owned businesses in Davao City a ‘personal insult,’ is not only hypocritical but downright self-serving,” it added.
Duterte-Carpio, in a statement posted on the Facebook account of the City Government of Davao on Monday, hit back at PKM.
“My husband and I are separate entities. In fact, we do not discuss the job that we chose to do, we just commit to sincerely work and earn money for the benefit of our children.
“So let me make you understand why I condemned what the New People’s Army have done. On or about 8 o’clock in the morning of April 29, 2017, I was standing in the middle of the trauma room of the Southern Philippines Medical Center praying that the civilian who was injured in the IED blast — courtesy of the terrorist NPA — will not die,” she said.
The mayor said the victim named Larry “had no one with him so I was the one who had to read through his text messages to look for a family member. I was the one who called his wife, broke the bad news, and asked her to come and stand by her husband’s side.”
Larry sells fruits and fish for a living.
“The victim was the very person that you say should be defended from injustice,” Duterte-Carpio said.
“So when I condemned what the NPA did, I spoke for Larry. But you did not know that, did you? You just assumed when I say personal, it is all about my life. Because that is how you are. You are selfish individuals and you think the world is all about you,” she added.
Duterte-Carpio said the incidents in Kidapawan and Tagum, alluding to the bloody incidents of dispersal in these cities last year, “are of no concern of mine”.
She said she would “never dip my fingers in affairs outside of my area of responsibility”.
She said the NPA’s “punitive action” against Lapanday “was nothing but an action against peace, economic stability, and the security in Davao City. We now have 130 employees without work and Larry still in a coma. And yet the Lorenzos will still have money that you and I can only dream about in this lifetime. It did not even make a dent in their bank accounts.”
“I maybe a hypocrite to you, but you are stupid to me and all the peace-loving Dabawenyos.
Terrorists and fake organizations do not have the right to talk about social justice. Show me your faces and then maybe I will listen to your rant about social justice,” she added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)