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Armed men torch backhoe used in Davao Surs P50-M irrigation project; NPA eyed.

MATANAO -- Police authorities here have started investigating the torching of a backhoe owned by a private contractor undertaking a P50-million irrigation project here, and communist insurgents are among the suspects.

The burning took place early Wednesday in Barangay San Jose here, less than 24 hours after the provincial peace and order council held a meeting in nearby Digos City.

Acting town Mayor Elmer Javelona said the backhoe, owned by the JHL Construction, was parked in Barangay San Jose, when unidentified men - who introduced themselves as New Peoples Army rebels - poured gasoline and set it on fire around 2 a.m.

JHL was undertaking a six-month irrigation canal project that was supposed to be finished this month.

Chief Insp. Elmer Cabuslay, Matanao police chief, said three men arrived on board two motorcycles and told JHL workers they were NPA rebels.

Cabuslay said the attack was being investigated because the construction company had not previously received any extortion demand from the rebels and that it had been working in the area without trouble.

Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, provincial police director, said a manhunt has started against suspects while authorities try to get more information about the attack.

On Tuesday, Gov. Claude Bautista asked police and military authorities to tighten security in view of the approaching NPA anniversary.

Dubria said they have not lowered their guard, particularly after the March 10, 2014 NPA attack on the Matanao police station that led to the deaths of two policemen.

"Thats why we were taking this burning seriously. But so far, nothing is conclusive and we are still digging deeper," he said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 18, 2015
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