From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 8): Business groups report big losses; P300-M equipment burned by NPAs
Tago, Surigao del Sur – Business groups in the construction and agriculture industries here have reported big losses due to the burning activities of the New People’s Army (NPA), which has been estimated to reach P300 million worth of heavy equipment so far.
The businessmen said the burnings were the rebel groups’ answer to their continued refusal to pay taxes to the underground movement.
“We have already suffered severe losses from the burned heavy equipment,” said a project engineer of a big construction firm in Northeastern Mindanao, who requested anonymity. Some businesses have already started paying the imposed taxes just to avoid more losses, he added.
“Wala kaming magagawa, kaya bumibigay nalang din kami” (We can’t do anything that’s why we give in to their demand), said a contractor involved in the construction of farm-to-market roads in the province. Out of fear, he too asked to remain anonymous.
A company operating a large banana plantation in the province also reported big losses from the burning not only of expensive agricultural equipment but also of fully-grown banana trees.
Last month, at least 12,000 fully-grown rubber trees were destroyed by the rebels in a plantation at Sitio Kaunlaran, Barangay San Antonio in Remedios Trinidad Romualdez town in Agusan del Norte.
That was closely followed by an attack on a banana plantation believed committed by the same group, at Purok 4, Barangay Dona Rosario, Tubay, Agusan del Norte. A spray airplane of the Philippine Agricultural Aviation Corporation rented by Del Monte Corporation parked at Hangar Airstrip was burned during the attack.
“Millions of pesos have been lost and we are appealing to the AFP, PNP and other law enforcement agencies to help solve this problem,” said a small plantation owner.
The group of businessmen asked the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chaired by Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. to address the problem.
The NPAs also stormed the construction site of Pacific Asphalt Corporation and burned heavy equipments at Sitio Tribu, Barangay Union, in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley (ComVal) province, Oct. 1. ComVal police report said most of the heavy equipment destroyed were being used in the on-going construction of housing units in the area by the National Housing Authority (NHA).
Razed in that attack were a Caterpillar boom truck worth P2 million; a loader estimated at P2 million; an Isuzu mixer worth P1 million; and an Isuzu loader worth P1 million.
According to the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom), the cost of the damaged equipment already reached P 300 million, from January to the present.
EastMincom covers the area of Northeastern Mindanao (Region 13), Northern Mindanao (Region 10), Southern Mindanao (Region Xl) and some parts in Central Mindanao.