Armed men who introduced themselves as communist rebels raided a pearl farm in Taytay, Palawan, where they seized six employees, firearms, and communication equipment, a military spokesperson said.

About 12 armed men, who told the pearl farm’s manager that they are New People’s Army (NPA) members, carried out the raid at the Salvamar Pearl Farm in Brgy. Pampang past 12 noon, Armed Forces Western Command spokesperson Lt. Cherryl Tindog said by phone.

“Nung umatake ‘yung armed group, tangay nila yung mga shotguns, handheld radios, saka speedboats ng kompanya. Kasama ‘yung mga operators ng speedboats kaya naging anim ‘yung tinangay nilang katao,” Tindog said.

The rebels, however, released the six pearl farm employees past 3 p.m. or around 4 p.m., she said.

“Nasa custody na ng provincial police ‘yung anim na personnel… ni-release sila ng abductors, sa ngayon naga-undergo sila ng debriefing at ‘yung medical attention ibinibigay na rin,” Tindog said.

The regional military spokesperson declined to say where the hostages were freed so as not to jeopardize ongoing pursuit operations by troops.

Tindog said it is likely that the attack stemmed from extortion because the NPA had previously sent “demand letters” to the pearl farm management.

“Merong kasing mga previous incidents na ‘yung grupo ng NPA na ito, under the leadership ni alyas Ka Arnel, na meron silang demand letters na nag-eextort sila doon. Siguro dahil hindi naibibigay, hindi naggi-five in ‘yung management ng Salvamar Pearl Farm, kaya nag-retaliate sila,” she said.

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