NPA defies ‘weak’ tag, burns 3 dump trucks
MAGSAYSAY, Davao del Sur — Armed men believed to be members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) set fire to three dump trucks in the village of Kasuga here on Saturday in yet another attack to show they were not a spent force as the military often described them.
Senior Insp. Cris Ian Taghap, chief of Magsaysay town police, said at least 10 armed men flagged down the dump trucks as these passed through the village and, at gunpoint, ordered the drivers out of the vehicles.
As soon as the drivers got off, the suspected rebels burned the trucks, owned by construction company Jejors, which had been working on a road project linking Magsaysay to the town of Matanao.
Police cited reports that Jejors had been receiving demands for revolutionary taxes from rebels since last week.
The company also got a warning from rebels that its equipment would be burned if it refused to pay.
Military sources said the group that attacked the trucks was led by a certain Commander Volcan of the NPA’s Committee Front 72, which had been operating in remote areas of Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, parts of Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces.
The attack came barely a month after military officials said in a statement that the NPA forces in the province had already shrunk in size.
Police and military were now on the hunt for the rebel group.
The attack appeared to be a show of force by the NPA as the government continued to lure rebels to surrender by offering them money and houses.
Money from gov’t
In Misamis Occidental, officials said at least 71 former rebels had already received financial aid through the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program, or E-CLIP.
The former rebels were first made to take an oath of allegiance to the government before receiving the benefits.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a ceremony at the provincial capitol in Oroquieta City, handed checks worth from P15,000 to P65,000 to former rebels.
Col. Bagnus Gaerlan, head of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, said 69 of those who surrendered were regular members of the NPA while two others were communist militiamen.
No turning back
Maj. Clint Antipala, acting public affairs officer of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said communist militias were composed of NPA supporters whose tasks included taking care of rebel firearms and food supplies.
Misamis Occidental Gov. Herminia Ramiro said she was hopeful that, through E-CLIP, the lives of former rebels would change for good and their numbers would decrease.
“To our former rebels, there is no turning back,” she said, addressing herself to the 71 former rebels.
“You are now our partners for peace and development in our province,” Ramiro said.
One alias Man-Man, one of the former rebels, cited difficulties in the rebel movement as reasons for leaving it.
He thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for continuing the reintegration program.
E-CLIP, he said, was a “complete convergence of government units and agencies” to bring back rebels into the folds of the law. —WITH A REPORT FROM DIVINA M. SUSON
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