New People’s Army rebels raid pearl farm

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – Suspected New People’s Army rebels raided at noon Monday, a pearl farm on an islet of Taytay town in northern Palawan, carting away a still undetermined number of firearms and communications equipment, according to the Philippine National Police in the province.

Initial reports released by the PNP provincial command indicated that the rebels led by a certain Ka Arnel raided the Salvamar Pearl Farm located at Cagdanao Island, Calauag village and seized six employees of the farm when they escaped using the company’s speedboats.  The rebels released the farm workers unharmed at an undisclosed location.

Police and elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 4 were in hot pursuit Monday night, Superintendent Atanacio Macalan, spokesperson of the Provincial Police Office in Palawan, said.

“The hostages were released unharmed at a still undisclosed range,” said Macalan.

The employees of the farm seized and later released by the suspected rebel were identified as Edgardo Ramos, Marcelo Mellado and Villamor Fernandez, and boat operators Nestor Dula, Marjun Diulon and Jovi Descartin.

The pearl farm was reported to be owned by a French national Jacques Brannelec, a business partner of the Cojuanco-managed Jewelmer Pearl farm.

Macalan said they were still determining how the NPA rebels entered the island but confirmed the rebels left the island using one of the company’s speedboats.