The New People’s Army made its presence felt again in southern Negros, when men believed to be its members burned heavy equipment of a private construction firm contracted by the government to rehabilitate and repair farm to market roads in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, Monday night.
Lt. Col. Ariel Reyes, 47th Infantry Battalion commander, yesterday said about 30 armed men, who introduced themselves as NPA members, burned a dump truck and a backhoe owned by the HLJ construction firm in Sitio Buta, Brgy. Caliling, Cauayan.
Damage has been placed at P1.8 million.
Reyes said the NPA rebels, however, did not harm the workers of the construction firm, but merely told them that they are going after the heavy equipment owned by Henry Jordan.
The arsonists used combustible materials in burning the heavy equipment.
In previous months, suspected rebels had used improvised explosive devices to destroy the sugarcane transloading station in Escalante City, military records show.
Reyes said the owner of the construction firm may have rejected the demands of the NPA for revolutionary taxes, and this led to the destruction of the two heavy equipment. Citing documents recovered by 47IB soldiers during encounters with NPA rebels in southern Negros, he said the construction firm was among the targets for extortion by the NPA.
The 3rd Infantry Division, that supervises internal security operations in Negros and Panay island, condemned the latest atrocities perpetrated by the NPA.
Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, 3ID commander, said they will continue to protect the citizenry and ensure that development efforts of the government reach the people, especially in the far-flung barangays.”
The construction firm is also involved in the construction and rehabilitation of road segments in Sipalay City, Hinobaan and Ilog towns.
Col. Allan Martin, 302ndInfantry Brigade commander, said their manhunt operation is ongoing and targeting the suspects in the arson activities.
Martin also asked for the cooperation of the business sector in reporting any extortion attempt, to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.*GPB
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