Communist rebels (File photo)
About 100 communist rebels launched simultaneous attacks on the main compounds of Del Monte Philippines Inc. and Dole Philippines in separate areas in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon on Tuesday.
The rebels killed a security guard at the Del Monte compound while three others were wounded.
"These attacks are not anymore for propaganda purposes. The rebels have been targeting civilians," said Colonel Eugenio Julio Osias, the military spokesperson in the area.
The rebels, however, said the attack was meant to be a "punitive action" against the expansion of operations of the two multinational companies.
Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao, the umbrella organization of the communist underground movement, said the attack was "a strong message to put a stop to land-use conversion."
He denied that the attack was a way to pressure the companies to pay "revolutionary taxes."
"It is not about money. This is about exacting justice," Madlos said, adding that the objective was to "demoralize" the security forces through a surprise attack.
The military said the rebels were not able to inflict much damage to properties because of the arrival of government troops.
The fertilizer warehouse and logistics office of Del Monte were burned. Dole's administration office was also razed.
The military has already launched pursuit operations against the rebels who reportedly fled to the hinterland villages of the province.
The communist rebels pulled out of peace talks in November 2011 after the government rejected demands to free jailed insurgents.
The Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, have been waging a guerrilla war to seize power since 1969. The government said some 30,000 people have died in the conflict.
The military estimates the current rebel strength at about 4,000 fighters, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the late 1980s.