Attack still a puzzle as more troops sent to airport project
DARAGA, Albay — Security had been tripled at the construction site of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) project days after an attack being blamed on New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas but which a project contractor doubted.
Col. Alden Juan Masagca, the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade commanding officer, said more soldiers were deployed to the project site to protect pieces of equipment, machinery and vehicles being used in the construction of what could be Bicol’s biggest infrastructure project.
Masagca said soldiers would be conducting patrols 24 hours to prevent another attack.
Act of destruction
Machinery, pieces of equipment and trucks were burned during the attack on Sept. 28 blamed on NPA guerrillas. The equipment and machinery belonged to one of the contractors of the project, E.M. Cuerpo Inc.
Another contractor involved in the project, Sunwest Construction and Development Corp., lost a locally assembled jeep during the attack.
“With the presence of government troops, we would prevent another sabotage,” Masagca said. The attack, he said, “delayed the program of work and what the attackers have done was really an act of destruction.”
Aside from guarding the BIA project site, soldiers were also guarding other vital installations in Albay province.
Initial investigation by the military and Albay police said one of the possible motives for the attack was the refusal of E.M. Cuerpo Inc. to pay revolutionary tax to the guerrillas.
But Rene Cuerpo, president and CEO of the company, said he could not be a target of the guerrillas because he had not been approached by any guerrilla to demand payment of revolutionary tax.
Asked about the possibility of a rival company being behind the attack, Cuerpo said it was very unlikely, too.
NPA guerrillas operating in Bicol had kept mum on the supposed attack on the airport project site. They normally own up to attacks.
No private armed groups
Asked if the attack could have been perpetrated by a private armed group (PAG), Masagca said no private armed group existed in Albay province.
“If there are PAGs being noted, maybe it is in Masbate province but only very few or most likely no more nowadays,” Masagca said.
He said it was common knowledge that some contractors, especially those with projects in guerrilla zones, to negotiate with NPA to settle demands for revolutionary taxes. Masagca refused to elaborate.
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