STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur — Communist rebels have allegedly threatened to blow up a P3-billion hydroelectric plant in Barangay (village) Sibulan here unless the company that operates the facility pays protection money, police said Wednesday.
Inspector Roi Pornobe, town police chief, said the New People’s Army (NPA) issued the warning to Hydro Electric Corporation (Hedcor), an Aboitiz-owned company, on July 9.
Hedcor, he said, is being asked to pay P200,000 a month to keep its plant in Sitio (sub-village) Lagdeg here safe.
Pornobe said the NPA’s alleged extortion of Hedcor was monitored by their intelligence unit.
“The front committee 51 under Ka Jasmin was asking the Hedcor management to pay P200,000 in exchange for the safety of their power plant. The NPA rebels said they will stage bomb attacks on the electric power plant if the management fails to pay the ransom money,” he said.
But Pornobe acknowledged they are coordinating with the Hedcor management to validate the report because the company has not told police about the alleged extortion yet.
Other sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, that this is not the first time the rebels have demanded protection money from the hydro power plant.
The sources said that in June, Jasmin’s group was also seen near the Hedcor facility.
Villagers confirmed to the Inquirer that NPA guerrillas frequently “visit” the Hedcor plant but said they never reported this to police out of fear.
Superintendent Samuel Navaja, Davao del Sur police director, said he did not wait for Hedcor officials to validate the reported extortion attempt but immediately ordered the deployment of police forces to the plant site to thwart any rebel plans against the facility.
Aside from the Hedcor plant, which is used by another Aboitiz firm, the Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC), to boost its power needs, Navaja said policeman have also been deployed to facilities owned by communications firms in the town.
NPA guerrillas have attempted to blow up the facilities of Globe Telecom and Pilipino Telephone Corporation here in the past.
Also, unidentified armed men suspected of being NPA fighters fired a rocket at the storage tank of the San Miguel Brewery in Barangay Darong several years ago.
“All communication facilities and vital installations in the province are now fully guarded, including the facilities of the Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative,” he said.
In Davao City, the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Southern Mindanao warned of intensified tactical offensive by the NPA against government forces and other installations as “punishment for the Arroyo regime’s grave abuses and crimes.”
“The NDF calls on the NPA to intensify tactical offensives against Arroyo’s fascist machinery,” Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the NDF in Southern Mindanao, said.
But the military said it was ready for any NPA attacks.
The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City said the warning is nothing new since the rebels issue it every year.