New People’s Army rebels who burned the properties of an hacienda owner in Brgy. Camansi, Kabankalan City, Thursday, also held 25 farm workers, and their children, and four security guards hostage, for almost 10 hours, Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday.
“It was a traumatic experience for the hostages, especially the children,” Aying said.
Police investigation showed that the rebel suspects, five of them women, torched the warehouse and the tractor of Hacienda Isabel that is owned by the family of the late Kabankalan Mayor Pablo Sola, beheaded some of the sheep, and disarmed the four security guards of three shotguns and a .38 caliber revolver.
The former mayor had been killed in an ambush in the 1980s.
The rebels left the hostages unharmed.
Asked about the delayed response of the Army soldiers and policemen, Aying said they are “cautious” about the modus operandi of the rebels in ambushing government troopers responding to NPA atrocities.
The scene of the incident, which is about 15 kilometers from the Kabankalan City proper is about three kilometers from a police detachment.
Supt. Salvador Dagoon, Kabankalan police officer-in-charge, admitted in an interview over MBC Aksyon Radyo that they arrived at the hacienda raided by the NPA at about noon Thursday, almost 12 hours after the rebels had occupied the area.
In May last year, five Army soldiers, who were responding to arson activities of the NPA in Brgy. Camindangan, Sipalay City, were killed in an ambush staged by rebels. They also lost five high-powered firearms to the NPA.
Aying said the agrarian-reform dispute between the hacienda owner and beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was taken advantage of by the NPA, in order to win the support of the CARP recipients.
Soldiers of the 47th Infantry Battalion are now conducting manhunt operations against the fleeing rebels, he said.
Two weeks ago, suspected NPA assassins also killed CAFGU member Ricky Camacho in Brgy. Magballo, Kabankalan City.
Aying noted that the CPP-NPA rebels are getting more violent, and said they have turned into “lawless criminals.”
Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, condemned the latest atrocities committed by the NPA, as the rebels did not spare non-combatants, especially civilians.
“It is a very clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law,” Baladad said.*GPB