ITOGON, Benguet – A still undetermined number of heavily armed men believed to be members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) allegedly burned two brand new trucks of the Philex Mining Corporation at sitio Tapac, here, Thursday morning.
Lawyer Eduardo M. Aratas, Philex legal and administrative division head, said the trucks were loaded with ore concentrate to be brought to San Fernando, La Union when the vehicles were flagged down by the heavily armed men who reportedly introduced themselves as members of the NPA.
After forcing the drivers and the security escorts of the two Volvo trucks to alight, police investigators claimed the NPA rebels then used still undetermined type of explosives to set the vehicles on fire before fleeing towards an undisclosed direction.
Before the incident, the NPA rebels allegedly flagged down the barangay vehicle of Ampucao which was used to block the trucks from proceeding towards Baguio City.
Combined police and military operatives were dispatched to conduct a hot pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels while various checkpoints were established in the different entry and exit points to block the path of the rebels in case they opt to pass through the major roads.
Earlier, text messages had been circulating in the municipality on the presence of the rebels in the area conducting checkpoint that prompted local officials to inform the police about the matter.
Mayor Victorio Palangdan strongly condemned the act of the rebels in burning the units of heavy equipment of the mining company that is operating in the province, saying that the incident will greatly affect the image of the municipality being a peaceful community.
Aratas said the burned vehicles are beyond repair but he expressed optimism that the ore concentrate loaded to it will be salvageable.
By Dexter A. See