By Raymond M. Almodal
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – The Western Command (WESCOM) late Wednesday afternoon condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) in the torching of heavy equipment units belonging to a palm oil company in Bataraza town in southern Palawan.
In a statement it released through its spokesperson, Capt. Cherryl Tindog, said: “WESCOM condemns in the strongest terms the arson incident in Barangay Culandanum, Bataraza, which is an abominable act of violence, loathe and greed of this terrorist group. Such act is tantamount to their insincerity to pursue lasting peace, and their irrevocable resolve to continue harassing and extorting from vulnerable targets.”
WESCOM further said “the terroristic act of the NPA is an economic sabotage that greatly affects the local populace, especially those who are working in the palm oil plantation.”
“They are putting residents, who are expecting a lot from the income they can make in working in the palm oil plantation, in misery,” the statement claimed.
In an interview with the Palawan media, who joined WESCOM on a late afternoon trip to Sitio Linao in the said barangay, Tindog said the fully-armed members of the communist-terrorist group probably torched the heavy equipment units for failure of the palm oil company to give in to their revolutionary extortion scheme.
Allegedly, they are owned by San Andres Palm Oil Co. (SAPOC), whose oil plantation is located in the craggy hills of Culandanum.
She said it might also be frustration because of WESCOM’s sincere campaign call for recruited Palaweños to the NPA to surrender, and return to government fold.
Based on joint police and WESCOM investigation, 19 fully-armed members of the communist-terrorist group were seen in the Culandanum sitio, where the heavy equipment units were stationed.
The torching happened around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Bataraza is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan. It is located on the southernmost tip of Palawan Island, approximately 225 kilometers (140 mi) from Puerto Princesa City and about five to six hours by land. (PNA)