NPA burns heavy equipment for road projects

SUSPECTED New People's Army (NPA) rebels torched in separate incidents on Saturday a number of equipment used in road construction projects in Davao City.

The first incident happened at Purok 1-B in Barangay Mulig in Toril around 10:10 p.m. wherein suspected communist rebels set on fire a mini dump truck and a road roller.

Records at Toril police showed that the burned equipment were owned by Vicente Lao Construction.

Police said extortion is believed to be the motive behind the incident.

According to witnesses, four unidentified armed men burned the equipment.
Initial investigation conducted by Police Officer 2 (PO2) Barney Jones Batuto of Toril police revealed that the four men were all wearing ball caps with towels covering their faces. The four arrived in the area onboard two motorcycles.

"According to witnesses, the men were also looking for the personnel of the Army's 84th Infantry Battalion detailed at the said construction site. But the Army personnel weren't around," Batuto said in his report.

When the suspected communist rebels failed to find the personnel of the 84th Infantry Battalion, the four fled towards the upper portion of Mulig, followed by a tribal green SUV adventure.

Recovered from the crime scene were an empty gallon container and two matchsticks boxes believed to had been used in burning the equipment. The mini dump truck was totally burned, while the road roller was faintly damaged.

The second incident happened in Barangay Manambulan in Tugbok around 10:40 p.m. of the same day wherein the rebels razed a backhoe. Records at Tugbok police showed that the equipment was also owned by the Vicente Lao Construction.

Police investigation showed that the incident was witnessed by Barangay councilmen Condrado Alcantara, 41, of Toril, and Reynaldo Bitil, 42, of Marilog.

According to the witnesses, four unidentified armed men onboard two motorcycles arrived in the area and identified themselves as members of the NPA.

They said the rebels have no intention to kill civilians, telling them that they only need the equipment.

The four started to pour gasoline on top of the equipment and burned them when the two councilmen left the area.

Bitil, however, turned back and tried to stop the rebels. Bitil loaded his shotgun with ammunition, but the rebels hit his right leg before he was able to fire. Bitil returned fire, prompting the rebels to scamper and flee to different directions.

Recovered from the area was one lavender Honda XRM motorcycle 125 with a plate number 1725-XE. The police also recovered six fired cartridges of caliber .45 pistol and two unexploded 12 gauge shotgun shells.

Further information revealed that during the incident, several armed men occupied the road around 100 meters away from the place of incident.

The police and the military are now conducting investigations on the incident.
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