GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – In what they described as “punitive actions” against mining operations in Mindanao, New People’s Army (NPA) communist rebels raided the field facilities of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) in Sitio Gumati Kura, Barangay Kimlawis in the town of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, early morning of Monday, May 19. Forty eight container vans which served as makeshift offices of the mining company were burned in the raid.
Meanwhile, in a separate and almost simultaneous attack, another group of NPA guerrillas jumped the security guards of an exploration company in Barangay Salnaong in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, making away with 14 shotguns and assorted ammunition; as announced by rebel spokesman Ka Efren. The company is reportedly owned by Consunji’s DMCI Holdings, which has a mining subsidiary in the area.
Around 80 NPA rebels participated in the simultaneous attacks, which, as Ka Efren said in a telephone interview, were part of the group’s “punitive actions against mining operations throughout the country.”
Commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 1002nd Brigade, Col. Norman Flores, said the rebels were led by one Joan Casamurin, alias Ka Alvin. Flores likewsie confirmed the raid on the subsidiary of DMCI, and that the rebels indeed confiscated the guns of the security guards.
Flores added that the “forward office” of SMI in Kimlawis had already been abandoned, but that prders were nevertheless given for military troops to go after the rebels.
“This could be a retaliation for the capture of Felix Armodia alias Ka Jing and to force the mining companies to give in to their extortion try,” he explained.
On Saturday, May 3, the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced the capture of Armodia, identified as the secretary of the NPA’s Front 72.
Mining companies in the region, as in other provincial areas, have constantly faced security threats to their operations, through the years.
The NPA Asia’s longest-running insurgent group, has been accused by the military of extorting from mining firms to finance its revolution.