BATANGAS - Suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels set fire to around P25 million worth of construction equipment in Sto. Tomas town Wednesday evening, police said.
Sto. Tomas police chief Supt. Noel Nuñez said at least 10 heavily armed men stormed the compound of Revere Construction in Barangay San Agustin around 10 p.m.
The suspects then gathered the workers inside a nipa hut and ordered them to lie down and keep quiet. The suspects then poured gasoline on the construction equipment.
After the burning of the equipment, the suspects casually walked away from the site and fled towards the mountainous side of Alaminos, Laguna.
"Noong una, ang pakilala nila ay mga tauhan sila ng PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), pero noong paalis na sila, nagpakilala na silang mga NPA," Nuñez said.
No one was reported hurt in the incident.
Authorities said the company had received an extortion letter from the NPA four months ago but the owner, Renato Maligalig, refused to pay, saying the rebels were asking for a huge amount of money.
Government troops are now conducting hot pursuit operations against the rebels.
Meanwhile, two village chieftains fell prey to extortionists in Barangay San Miguel. The victims were identified as San Fernando chairman Jerry Macasadia, 45, and San Miguel chairman Romeo Manzanilla, 53.
Macasadia told police he received a call on November 13 from mobile number 09174656027 threatening to kill him if he would not heed the demand.
"'Kap, taga Ozamis kami. Ipinapapatay ka sa halagang P80,000. Sa dalawang linggo naming pagsu-surveillance ay napatunayan naming mabait kang kapitan kaya't hindi na namin itutuloy ang pagpatay sa iyo kung magbibigay ka sa amin ng P30,000,'" Macasadia quoted the suspect as saying.
Macasadia negotiated with the suspect until they settled for P5,000. Police said the suspect withdrew the money from a money remittance center in Davao City.
Manzanilla also received a similar call from 09095397786 demanding P100,000. The amount was reduced to P2,000.
Fearing for his life, Manzanilla deposited the money to the account mentioned by the suspect.
The victims submitted to the police two pieces of sending out form receipts.
Nuñez immediately ordered his men to conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter.