MANILA, Philippines – Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) torched construction equipment in Paracale, Camarines Norte, on Monday, December 22.
Four heavy construction equipment were torched at around 10 pm in Barangay Gumaos, where a bridge was being constructed, the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said in a statement.
"A backhoe, a road roller, and two pay loaders of the Varin Construction Company were burned by suspects who introduced themselves as NPA members," said Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, commander of the 49th Infantry Battalion.
The suspects told Justino Cardenas, assistant foreman of the construction company, that the attack was carried out as punishment to the contractor for not giving in to their extortion demands.
The attack happened before the NPA-declared ceasefire on December 24 to 26, December 31 to January 1, and January 15 to 19, 2015.
The AFP Solcom likewise implemented a suspension of military operations (SOMO) starting midnight of December 18, 2014, until January 19, 2015.
"They took advantage of the SOMO by attacking unarmed civilians and a government project," Aguilar said.
Soldiers have been deployed in Bgy. Gumaos to secure the area, said Aguilar. Despite the burning incident, the AFP Solcom said it will continue the observance of the SOMO.
In addition, a conference for all contractors was scheduled on December 28 by 902nd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Amador Tabuga to coordinate security arrangements for all government projects in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
"We will continue to undertake active security operations and proactive actions to secure civilian communities, government establishments, investment facilities, vital installations, and military bases to ensure the safe and secure celebration of the Yuletide season," said AFP Solcom chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya. – Rappler.com