SECOND District Board Member Salvador Escalante condemned the attack on the plant of Helios Solar Energy Corp. in Barangay Tinampaan, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental last September 14.

Escalante, a former mayor of Cadiz, said the attack came after the management refused to give in to the extortion attempt of the rebels.

“It is pity the incident happened. Now that we have a power plant that is good for the environment and has no health issues, it was attacked plainly for somebody’s pocket,” the board member said.

Escalante said he believes the attack was made by bandits and not by the New People’s Army because up to this time, the rebel group has not issued any statement claiming the act.

“Here comes a group of people who I cannot identify and probably a bandit group who are trying to use the NPA as cover,” he added.

Police investigation showed 17 men armed with high-powered firearms attacked the solar power farm on a Thursday night causing damage to 90 solar panels.

For its part, the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army had condemned the NPA for staging the attack.

“The attack (on Thursday night) is an intentional destruction of developmental and economic installation which provides sufficient supply of solar energy in the said town,” said Major General Jon Aying, commander of the 3rd ID, in a press statement.

The 132.5-megawatt solar farm, considered the largest in Southeast Asia and the seventh biggest in the world, was inaugurated in March last year.

According to the Army, about 10 armed men fired at Tower No. 7 around 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, damaging several solar panel boards and a CCTV camera all worth P2.25 million.

Authorities recovered six shells of M203 grenade launcher, five live ammunition of .45 caliber pistol, two live ammunitions of garand rifle, two long magazines of M16 with five live ammunition, two pins of hand grenades, and several bullets shells of various high-powered firearms.

Moreover, Aying said he believes the rebels staged the attack after the company refused to give in to the extortion reportedly demanded by the NPA’s Roselyn Pelle Jean Command-Northern Negros Front.