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NPA torches equipment at Bicol Int’l Airport

By Niño N. Luces

DARAGA, Albay – At least 11 construction equipment, including several trucks, were among those destroyed at a construction site at the Bicol International Airport after these were burned down by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas, Thursday night.

Chief Inspector Arthur Gomez of the Albay PPO enumerated the damaged units as including five dump trucks, one mini dump truck, one double cub, one grader, one mixer, one telescopic crane and one owner type jeep.

Gomez said a detachment of the Philippine Army located some 2 kilometers away from the construction site at Brgy. Alobo and a platoon of the Albay PPSC, located 3 kilometers away at Brgy. Bascaran, were also harassed by the rebels during the same time period.

In an interview, Ernesto Responde, Jr., foreman of E.M. Cuerpo, Inc., a partner in the airport construction site, said the attack happened at about 8:20 p.m. on Thursday.

He related, “May lumusob sa amin na aabot sa 30 na mga lalaki na armado ng mahahabang baril. Sa takot ko, tumakbo ako ng malayo. ‘Yung mga trabahador namin, du’n kasi sila natutulog sa dump truck, pinababa at pinadapa at saka sinunog ‘yung mga equipment na ginagamit namin dito sa construction ng airport.” On Friday morning, Albay 2nd District Congressman Joey Salceda issued a statement condemning the incident. 

“So sad, so bad. Another big setback after 12 years of effort. But we are not giving up. We ask the AFP and PNP to fully secure the ongoing construction of the Bicol Int’l Airport in Daraga now on its final stage – the passenger terminal building. We remain hopeful and the entire government is resolute that the President’s commitment of its completion in three years will still be met by early 2020. This flagship project is a pillar of our development aspirations since tourism is our biggest potential,” he said.