Rebels burn mining firm’s equipment
BACOLOD CITY—At least 30 communist rebels burned 11 units of heavy equipment and two generator sets worth P120 million owned by a Cebu-based mining company at the village of Jandalamon, Ayungon town in Negros Oriental province, early on Wednesday.
The Mt. Cansermon Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) issued a statement on Thursday, claiming responsibility for torching seven backhoes, two loaders, a grader, a bulldozer and two generator sets owned by Pilipinas Eco-Friendly Mining Corp. (PEMC).
In a statement, a certain Dionesio Magbuelas, spokesperson of the Mt. Cansermon Command, claimed that the mining operations of PEMC, which had been supplying silica to cement factories in Cebu for the past 15 years, had destroyed the environment in Ayungon.
He added that the company’s mining operations destroyed about 2,000 hectares of farm lots and rice fields.
The mining site is some 17 kilometers from the town proper of Ayungon.
But Gen. Ignacio Madriaga, 302nd Infantry Brigade Commander, said he believed that the attack was due to the failure of the company to give in to demands for revolutionary taxes.
The company, however, said it had not received any threats or demand letters from the NPA.
In May last year, the rebel group also claimed responsibility for burning heavy equipment owned by a private construction company in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental.
Communist rebels continued to launch attacks following a truce that their leaders declared for the holidays.
But the military belittled the rebels’ capability to oust President Duterte as claimed by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison.
Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said rebels already tried but failed to oust Mr. Duterte in 2018.
“They have done that with other past Presidents and they failed,” Balagtey said.
Sison had said that the NPA would carry out more offensives against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its militias in 2019.
The communist leader said rebel offensives “will serve to strengthen the revolutionary movement by seizing arms from enemy forces and will expose the lies of the enemy.”
Rebel attacks, Sison said, would disprove government officials who “misrepresent the character and status of the people’s army and seek to mislead the people.”
But Balagtey said he doubted the NPA’s capability to effectively carry out Sison’s order, saying it was meant to mask the communist rebels’ actual numbers in the field.
“This is a statement to mask the dwindling number of NPAs and supporters,” Balagtey said.
“What they are doing are arson, killing and liquidation of innocent tribal leaders and civilians who are against them,” Balagtey said.
He added that he was instead confident that more rebels would return to the folds of the law.
Since Mr. Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70, national government agencies have been mobilized in poverty-stricken areas in the country to bring services and projects in hopes of convincing the people not to support rebels.
“Having all of these, we can see the ouster plot of the CPP against Duterte is bound to fail,” Balagtey said. —WITH A REPORT FROM MART SAMBALUD
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