PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines–While many Filipinos nationwide were caught up watching the Pacquiao-Marquez boxing match on different media on Sunday afternoon, suspected members of the New People’s Army burned one of the backhoes of a mining company in the southern Palawan town of Sofronio Española, the military said.
Lt. Col. Efren Rellores, head of the Marine Batallion Landing Team 12 operating in southern Palawan, said they were pursuing a band of suspected NPAs responsible for the attack.
An official of the Citinickel Mining Corporation, a company engaged in nickel mining in the area, claimed in press interviews that at least six armed men stopped a vehicle of one of the mining company’s contractors at around 1 p.m. Sunday in Barangay Punang, Sofronio Española and introduced themselves as members of the NPA.
The armed men allowed the civilians to pass through their checkpoint before setting the backhoe on fire.
The company, in a report submitted to defense authorities, claimed that the NPAs were attempting to exact “revolutionary taxes” from them.
Western Defense Command spokesperson Lt. Anne Abrigo said they were verifying the alleged extortion attempt “as it was mention(ed) in the statement of the company employees.”
Rellores also told the INQUIRER they have been closely monitoring a small group of NPAs operating in the area.
He said the group usually operates in small numbers going around the villages in the towns of Quezon, Rizal and Española.
The incident was the third similar attack launched by the rebels in 18 months. In separate incidents in June 2011, armed men also believed to be NPA rebels raided a security detachment of another company in Brooke’s Point, a town adjacent to Sofronio Española, and an illegal chromite mining operation on Pali Island, Taytay and disarmed their private security guards.