GENERAL SANTOS CITY- At least 60 armed men torched several trucks, a motorcycle, and a classifying plant inside a 600-hectare banana plantation in Sitio Paopao, Barangay Sinawal in General Santos City early Thursday morning.
The men introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
According to the plantation’s security guards, Benito Tayal and Rewel Arañador, the armed men arrived in the area at 4 a.m. They thought the group were soldiers because some were wearing Army uniforms. The men disarmed the guards and took their two M-16 rifles and 5 handheld radios.
The armed men fled by boarding a jeep and two trucks, going to the direction of Sitio Mocling of Barangay Mongocayo in the town of T’boli in South Cotabato.
According to the plant supervisor, Nelson Sakawari, 20 of his workers did not report to work after they learned about the incident.
The plant temporarily stopped its operation.
“Sunog na ang lahat ng materyales para sa processing namin, so wala na kaming magamit. So, gi-stop lang muna namin 'yung harvest so hanapan lang namin ng paraan,” said Sakawari.
(All our materials for processing were burned. We can't use anything. So, we stopped the harvest in the meantime.)
Senior Supt. Maximo Layugan, the city director of General Santos City Police Office, believes extortion was the motive behind the attack.
“Parang naghahanap ng pera, ganun. Ganun naman ang papuntahan eh," said Layugan.
(It seemed they were asking for money. That's the only reason why they would do it.)
The Far South Mindanao Region of the NPA, the Mount Musa Subregional Operational Command, in a statement admitted to disarming the two guards of Amadeo Banana packing plant and taking their rifles. But, did not mention about the torching of the trucks and classifying plant.