Monday, June 15, 2020

Suspected NPA rebels torch 3 heavy equipment in SoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 16, 2020): Suspected NPA rebels torch 3 heavy equipment in SoCot (By Allen Estabillo)

Google map of Tboli, South Cotabato

Authorities are eyeing extortion by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels as the motive behind the burning of three heavy equipment in a quarry site in Tboli town, South Cotabato province on Monday afternoon.

Maj. Irish Hezron Parangan, acting chief of the Tboli municipal police station, said Tuesday workers of the Gemma Construction and Supply, Inc. were extracting gravel from the riverside in Barangay Edwards at the height of heavy rains at about 3 p.m. when four gunmen came and torched their heavy equipment.

Parangan said the three company drivers were not harmed but the backhoe, payloader, and dump truck were destroyed.

Citing accounts from one of the drivers, he said a lone gunman carrying a sack initially approached and asked them to leave the site.

Parangan said three more suspects appeared, poured gasoline on the heavy equipment, and set them on fire.

The suspects, who were wearing ski masks and armed with handguns, hastily left the site after the incident, he said.

Parangan said the circumstances of the incident showed that it could be the handiwork of NPA rebels, who had been held responsible for similar attacks in the area in previous years.

“We’re looking at extortion as (a) possible motive but we’re not discounting other angles,” he said in a radio interview.

Parangan said these include the recent surrender of former NPA combatants under the Guerilla Front 72-Far South Mindanao Region.

He said officials of Gemma Construction, which is working on various government-commissioned infrastructure projects in parts of the province, have yet to confirm whether they received extortion demands before the attack.

The company estimated the damage to the three burned heavy equipment at PHP20 million, Parangan said, adding that follow-up operations by the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion were ongoing against the suspects.

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