Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año condemns the latest New People’s Army (NPA) attack at the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay currently under construction saying that the Communist rebels have been reduced to a rag tag group of extortionists and ordinary bandits.
“Attacks like this only prove that they are ordinary bandits. Kung talagang pag-unlad ng bansa ang hangarin nila, hindi nila sisirain ang mga proyekto na makatutulong nang malaki sa ating mga kababayan,”Año says.
The Bicol International Airport is one of the priority projects under the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte Administration and is expected to be completed in 2021.
According to the reports from Philippine National Police (PNP) PRO 5, an improvised explosive device (IED) was installed at the front portion of the dump truck owned by the contractor E.M. Cuerpo Inc. causing it to explode at 10:05 AM at the airport's site at Sitio Palanog, Brgy. Gapo, Daraga, Albay.
A group of soldiers in a nearby detachment of the Philippine Army responded and exchanged firefight with the rebel group."We are currently conducting intelligence operations to identify the people involved. Security review is already being undertaken by 903 Brigade Commander and the PD, Albay PPO. We will get to the bottom of this," the DILG Chief says.
Año says that the said attack was probably motivated by the NPA’s demands for Revolutionary tax which they use to fund their terroristic activities. “Wala ng idolohiyang ipinaglalaban ang mga kaliwa. Puro perwisyo na lang sila sa ating mga kababayan. Sa pamamagitan ng mga pag-atake na ito, patuloy silang nakakapangikil ng pera sa kanilang mga biktima. We will put a stop to it,” he says.
In 2017, at least 10 heavy equipment of the E.M. Cuerpo Inc. were also burned by Communist rebels.
The DILG Secretary says local government units (LGUs) must be vigilant in protecting infrastructure projects within their localities that may fall prey to NPA’s attacks. “The NPA will continue with their shenanigans, hence, LGUs must always be on their toes to protect their jurisdictions from their attacks.”
He encourages LGUs to coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to strengthen and tighten security around government projects as they are proven to be preferred targets of the NPA.
“Hindi na lang ngayon mga inosenteng tao ang kanilang pinupuntirya, pati mga proyekto ng pamahalaan ay sinasalakay na din nila. To the LGUs, be prepared. Laging nakahandang umalalay ang PNP at AFP sa inyo,” he says.
The DILG Chief says that the attack in Bicol International Airport was not the first time the NPA attacked a priority government project. Just two months ago, soldiers deployed in the Samar Pacific Road Project were attacked by the NPA resulting in three casualties, one from the 63rd Infantry Battalion and two from the rebel group.