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Army to file HR violations vs rebels in N. Cotabato

KIDAPAWAN CITY — The Philippine Army in North Cotabato will file charges of human rights violation against the communist New People's Army rebels in connection with the burning of heavy equipment of a construction firm in North Cotabato on Friday.
Lt. Manuel Gatus, chief of the civil military operations of the 57th IB, said they would file the charges with the government-National Democratic Front peace panel.
“The arson the NPA did against the contractor was clear human rights violation. They’re already into extortion, which is also a criminal offense,” said Gatus.
Extortion was likely the motive in the arson, according to City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco.
The owner of the torched vehicles, Ricardo dela Cruz Interior Construction Company, has refused to give in to the demands of the group, said the mayor.
Also, some of the construction workers who witnessed the torching at Barangay San Roque here said the armed men told them they wanted to punish the contractor.
On Friday, six motorcycle-riding armed men arrived at the quarry site at Barangay San Roque while the vehicles were loading sand and gravel.
They ordered the drivers and workers to move out while they poured on the gasoline on each of the heavy equipment.
The suspects were reported to have identified themselves as members of the NPA operating in North Cotabato province.
Minutes later, they exited towards La Esperanza in President Roxas, also a town in North Cotabato.
Inspector Rolando Dillera, deputy police director, estimated the damage at P7 million.
The torched vehicles included three dump trucks, a pay loader, and a backhoe.
PNA, RMA/hbc/NYP/Malu C Manar/utb


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