DAVAO CITY, Philippines, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Filipino communist New Peoples Army guerrillas attacked a Japanese Sumitumo Fruits Co. site in Mindanao, authorities said.
The Sumitumo facility in Bangbang, a village in Mindanao's North Cotabato province, has been targeted repeatedly.
The Bernama news agency reported Wednesday local authorities believe the attack could have been instigated by the firm's refusal to pay the NPA's "revolutionary" tax, exacted from businesses and politicians as the price for doing business.
The NPA, estimated by the Filipino government to have 4,000 members, is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines and has been battling authorities in Manila and 60 Philippine provinces since 1969.
The geography of the Philippines, which consists of more than 7,000 islands, with the 11 largest making up more than 95 percent of the country's area, adds to the difficulties of imposing central government control.
Not only do the Philippines suffer from an NPA Communist insurgency, but Muslims militants in Mindanao have been a problem for decades.
Insurgency has a long history in the Philippines.
Islam infiltrated Southeast Asia through traders and Sufis beginning in the 13th century. Unlike its spread in the Middle East, it was a largely peaceful process. This process left the Philippines with approximately 5 percent of its population Muslim, concentrated largely in the southern part of the country.
The NPA's militancy is not limited to Mindanao. It has criticized the growing military rapprochement between Washington and Manila, commenting negotiations between the Philippines and the United States over a possible agreement on the U.S. military forces' increased presence in the Philippines was nothing but a "masquerade," and charging plans to grant the United States "greater military access to ports and infrastructure and to extend rights to set up its own facilities has long been agreed upon by the Aquino government and the U.S. military."
The NPA added the further strengthening and expanding of the U.S. military presence in the Philippines violate Filipino sovereignty.
Manila's counterinsurgency efforts against the NPA are beginning to produce results. Last month nearly 30 NPA members in Negros Oriental reportedly defected to the government, which led to an announcement by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that the defection has practically "broken the back "of the region's insurgency.
AFP spokesman 1st Lt. Erick Wynmer Calulot said the defectors also took their oath of allegiance to the government in Siaton in the presence of provincial and municipal officials, adding, "They symbolically highlighted their act of finally defecting from the NPA by burning the NPA flag and embracing the Philippine flag."
Third Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Ray Tiongso added, "They admittedly decided to turn their backs [to the NPA] after realizing they have been fed with lies by the NPA leadership."
According to a recent combat report of the Third division, 62 NPA members have surrendered.
Last month AFP claimed the NPA "suffered huge losses" in July with 94 guerrillas killed and apprehended.