JUST days after 61 members of the House of Representatives filed a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to order the resumption of the peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels, suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) torched a total of 10 road-building heavy equipment on Saturday night, March 31 in different areas in Davao City.
House Resolution 1803, which was filed on March 22, states that reviving the talks would benefit the people, especially the peasants and workers who are expected to benefit from potential agreements on agrarian reform and industrialization. Burned at around 11 p.m. of Saturday, March 31 were three Howo dump trucks, one Caterpillar backhoe, and one King Long dump truck owned by the Leonard Trucking Services in Purok 4, Sitio Saudan and Purok 14, Sitio Quarry in Barangay Callawa, Buhangin District, the Buhangin Police Station report said.
Almost at the same time, a caterpillar bulldozer and one backhoe was also torched at Sitio Sta. Maria in Barangay Fatima, Paquibato District while the Calinan Police Station recorded the burning of a backhoe at Purok 8, Barangay Dalagday in Calinan District.
"Base sa atong inisyal nga imbestigasyon, suma sa mga nakasaksi sa dapit, nagpaila daw nga sakop sa NPA ang mga lalaki nga nakamotor nga misunog sa mga heavy equipment, pero still gina-verify pa nato kini nga hitabo kung kinsa ang mga responsable," Police Regional Office (PRO)-Davao Spokesperson Chief Inspector Milgrace Driz said.
(From our initial investigation, witnesses said that those who torched the equipment introduced themselves as members of the NPA. But we're still verifying this.)
In the Calinan police blotter report, there were eight youths, aged between 15 to 18 who arrived on motorcycles and torched the backhoe in Dalagdag.
"Kung mga 15-anyos, buot pasabot nagkabata na ang mihimo sa krimen, nagkabata na ang gina-recruit sa NPA kung mga NPA gayud ang mihimo sa pagsunog," Driz said.
(If it's true that the criminals were as young as 15 years old, then that means the NPA is recruiting younger and younger members.)
The atrocity could be linked to the anniversary of the NPA last March 29. Police investigators believe the burning of equipment owned by LTS is because it refused to pay the revolutionary tax the rebels were demanding. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Davao confirmed that the 10 equipment were being used for the bypass road connecting Callawa, Paquibato, and Calinan, but assured that these incidents will not cause a delay to the project completion.
"It is with deep regret that we received confirmed reports of separate incidents of burning involving several construction equipment in Callawa and Paquibato. As a matter of policy, we will await the results of the investigation being conducted by the AFP and the PNP on the said matter. We hope that justice will be served," Dean Ortiz, DPWH spokesperson told SunStar Davao on Sunday, April 1.
Ortiz added that the incident will not cause a significant delay on their projects.
"Yes it may delay the project but not significantly. We will meet with the contractor involved and discuss possible ways to fast track project implementation despite the incident," he said.