COTABATO CITY: Suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were again tagged by police and military authorities in Koronadal City as behind the burning of five heavy equipment owned by a quarry company on Tuesday night.
The incident prompted South Cotabato police to launch a manhunt for 20 armed men who introduced themselves as communist rebels as they stormed Happy Living Quarry Site in the borders of the villages of Concepcion and Magsaysay at past 8 p.m.
The suspected rebels disarmed the lone security guard and burned two dump trucks and three payloaders.
Supt. Barney Condes, Koronadal City police chief, said three armed men approached and took the firearm of Carlo Baron of Supreme Security Agency.
Baron said the suspects who were armed with long and short weapons told him they were only after the heavy equipment.
“At gunpoint, they took my firearm and other guns inside the bunkhouse,” he added.
The others simultaneously doused gasoline on the quarry equipment and set them on fire.
The suspects then fled with the firearms taken from the guards’ barracks.
It was the 9th arson incident involving heavy equipment and passenger buses in the Soccsksargen (South
Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos) region since November 13.
The apparent burning spree took place amid ngoing peace talks between the government and local communists.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes condemned the incident as she expressed alarm over a series of alleged NPA atrocities.
“Why is this happening when there is supposedly a government peace process with the communists and a ceasefire is in effect?” Fuentes asked.
Prior to the Tuesday incident, armed men who also claimed to be communist rebels also set on fire several passenger buses in Region 12 allegedly because of owners of the buses refused to pay revolutionary taxes.