DUMAGUETE CITY – Three heavy equipment owned by Big Foot Construction were set ablaze by heavily armed men believed to be members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) in separate places prompting the company to temporarily suspend its operation as a sub-contractor of the P80 million road concreting project from crossing Lumbangan, Mabinay up to Barangay Luyang and to Pansiao in Manjuyod. The concrete is 75% to 80% complete according to Mabinay Mayor Ernesto Dyango Uy.
Initial police reports showed that on or about 5:00 in the afternoon of Monday, May 21, ten heavily armed men set on fire a road roller owned by Big Foot Construction while parked at a vacant lot with the use of gasoline.
At 7:35 p.m. in the same night, the village chief of Bagtic, Mabinay, Edwin Garcia informed the Mabinay police that armed men also set on fire the back hoe owned by the same company while parked at sitio Butokon in Bagtic.
After an hour or so at 9:20 p.m. a concerned citizen informed the police that the parked bulldozer in sitio Begonia, Bagtic was also burned down by armed men beliueved to be NPA members.
Up to this date, however, there is no official statement coming from the NPA claiming responsibility of the burning incidents which they usually do.
Mayor Ernie Uy said witnesses overheard the group saying “Mabuhay ang NPA” before fleeing the crime scenes.
The mayor said a contractor told him armed men believed to be members of the rebel movement had demanded for a revolutionary tax and said contractor had refused to give in to the demand.
As a result, another contractor of a road concreting project immediately pulled out its heavy equipment from their project in the hinterland barangays. Mayor Uy was praying other concreting projects in his municipality will not be disturbed while rushing work so it will be completed before the rains come.
Meanwhile, the Mabinay chief executive had to immediately call back the responding fire truck not to proceed when told the heavy equipment were set on fire by alleged members of the NPA, due a very recent incident in Kabankalan where army troopers were ambushed while responding to a back hoe burning incident, one army man and one alleged member of the NPA were dead in that incident.
Mayor Uy also reported that about 40 families, all residents of brangay Luyang fled their homes during the burning incidents for fear they will be hit in the cross fires if an encounter will ensue between the fleeing rebels and the responding government authorities including the army.
However, the mayor said, the “bakwits” had returned to their homes when told the perpetrators are not from the place.
62nd Infantry battalion commander Lt Col. Darryl Banez said hot pursuit operation is going on while validating reports the perpetrators shouted “Mabuhay ang NPA” after burning the heavy equipments in three separate incidents.
He also confirmed having received information that the suspected NPA rebels had sent extortion letters to the contractors and when refused set the heavy equipment on fire.
In lieu of this, the 62nd infantry battalion commander said there is strong possibility that the perpetrators are members of the NPA.