Suspected NPA rebels torch equipment in 4 gov’t projects
STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur, Philippines—Suspected communist rebels on Saturday evening staged near simultaneous attacks on four government project sites here and set on fire several heavy equipment.
A manhunt resulted in the arrest of two male suspects early Sunday, Capt. Danny Boy Tapang, spokesperson of the 39th Infantry Battalion here, said.
Recovered from the suspects — whom Tapang declined to identify — was a 9-millimeter pistol, ammunition for various firearms, and bomb components such as trigger mechanisms.
“They are still being investigated. They’re under police custody,” he said.
Chief Insp. Roberto Caraoa, Sta. Cruz police chief, confirmed they already got two suspects in custody.
Caraoa said the two suspects, aged 52 and 18, were arrested in Sitio Bayungon in Barangay Astorga during the manhunt operation.
“We also recovered flammable materials from them so they must have been involved in the attacks,” he said.
Col. Apollo Lamaton Jr., commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion based here, said unidentified armed men on motorcycles arrived on road construction sites in Barangay Tagabuli, Barangay Coronon and Sitio Tacub in Zone I and Barangay Darong and set on fire heavy equipment around 7:30 p.m.
Lamaton said the suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels poured gasoline on the heavy equipment, set them on fire and then fled.
No human casualty has been reported, Lamaton said.
He said the military has launched a manhunt for the suspects, who fled in various directions.
Caraoa said in a report that a total of eight heavy equipment — a grader, a crane, four backhoes, a dump truck, a road roller — were burned.
Local sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the NPA has been extorting money from the contractors of the government projects, identified as Algon Construction, TKS Builders, Premium Co. and Pre Phil Co.
“The attacks meant the rebel failed to get their demand,” one of the sources, a civilian official, said.
Lamaton said extortion was also among the angles the military had considered.
Tapang said the military learned that prior to the attacks, some personalities identified with the communist movement had approached the contractors of the projects and demanded protection money.
“But the contractors never sought our help. The incidents might have been prevented had there been coordination,” he said. Eldie Aguirre, with reports from Allan Nawal and Williamor Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao
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