ILOILO CITY — Suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) burned three heavy equipment owned by a construction firm in Igcocolo village, Guimbal town on Wednesday night.
Based on the report of the Guimbal Municipal Police Station, around 15 men entered the concrete batching plant of Wilkinson Construction owned by Mr. Wilkinson Ong at 10:45 p.m.
Investigation showed one of the perpetrators introduced themselves as members of the CPP-NPA then used a 1.5-liter bottle filled with fuel to torch the equipment.
Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commander of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB), told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that one of the suspects threatened the personnel.
“One suspect told the personnel not to do something unfavorable to them because they are members of the NPA,” Batara said in a phone interview on Thursday.
The 61IB commander said he had talked with the project engineer and learned that the company had been receiving extortion letters and text messages from the rebels since 2017.
The latest extortion attempt was sometime last February. The company had never given in to the demands of the rebels, Batara said.
The construction firm undertakes government’s road development projects in the towns of the first district of Iloilo.
The First District of Iloilo is composed of the towns of Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Tubungan, Igbaras, Miag-ao, and San Joaquin.
The burning of the equipment – two transit mixers and one backhoe – will hamper the road projects.
“The project engineer said they were instructed by their head to temporarily stop the road works because the company will still need to have a meeting to assess the situation,” he said.
Batara said the First District of Iloilo is the most vulnerable area in the province when it comes to CPP-NPA extortion activities. “Extortion activities are rampant there since the first district has big businessmen and contractors,” he said.
The perpetrators fled to nearby Tubungan town after the burning.
Police Regional Office in Western Visayas (PRO 6) condemned the burning incident in an official statement.
“PRO 6 strongly condemns the unlawful acts of the CPP-NPA that would gravely affect the surrounding communities. The real victim here is not only the contractor but the citizenry. Because of the CPP-NPA’s selfish acts, rooted in their desire to extort money from the contractors, there would be delays in the ongoing projects that would bring comfort and convenience to the people of Guimbal and its nearby towns,” the statement stressed.
The police and the Army encourage the public to report the presence of rebels in their area to prevent a repeat of the incident.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.