Communists burn heavy equipment in Sarangani

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist insurgents burned millions of pesos worth of heavy equipment used in government road projects in the southern Philippine province of Sarangani, officials said.

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Capt. Alberto Caber, chief, Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, on Wed–nesday the rebels burned a backhoe, a grader and a road roller truck, which were being used in a road construction in Barangay Suyan in Malapatan town.

He expressed belief that the burning incident was in retaliation to the construction firm’s refusal to give in to the extortion demand or the so-called revolutionary tax imposed by the New People’s Army (NPA) on firms and businesses operating in their areas of jurisdiction.

He said the rebels escaped after the burning the equipment, but Eastmincom chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz 3rd, the regional army commander, deployed troops from the 72nd Infantry Battalion to help the Malapatan police pursue the raiders.

“I encourage everybody to help our soldiers and police elements in their efforts against NPA extortion and attacks on civilians and their properties. These attacks are a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” Cruz said.

The rebel group, which is fighting for a separate state, is a signatory to the accord.

Earlier, the rebels burned a crane truck owned by Dumalo Construction in Alegria, Surigao del Note, and several trucks owned by Misami Occidental Vice Gov. Henry Oaminal, borth for their refusal to pay revolutionary taxes.

They also set fire to two banana-transporting trucks owned by Sumifru Corp. and Dole Philippines in Bukidnon and destroyed some 15 hectares of banana plants in Surigao del Sur.

Much earlier, two dumptrucks, two backhoes and a Hilux pick-up owned by Eagles Equipment Inc. in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental were also burned by alleged communist rebels.

Armed Forces of the Philippines records showed that the NPA destroyed and damaged a total of P1.2 billion of private and public properties in 31 recorded atrocities last year.

They also earned at least P300 million from alleged extortion activities.

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