Sunday, August 11, 2013

Armed men torch 11 buses worth P44M in Laguna -

By Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon

CAMP PACIANO RIZAL, Laguna, Philippines— A band of armed men in camouflage uniforms and military hats attacked a bus company by setting on fire 11 of its buses, valued at P44 million, early on Monday.

Senior Supt. Pascual Muñoz, Laguna police director, said this happened at around 1:15 a.m. Monday, at the motorpool of the HM Transport Inc., located in Barangay (village) Biñan, in Pagsanjan, Laguna.

On board two vehicles, 15 men, carrying different types of guns, introduced themselves as members of a police raiding team when they entered the compound.

"They held the security guards at gunpoint and collected the guards' cell phones as they set the buses on fire," said Colonel Ivan Samarita, the commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army.

The Army took part in the investigation to determine the involvement of rebel groups.

But in a phone interview Monday, Samarita said there were "slim chances" that the attack was carried out by the communist New People's Army (NPA).

"So far, there are no indicators pointing to that, although we cannot rule out yet the possibility that leftist groups might be involved," he said.

The bus company owner and former 1-Utak Partylist representative Homer Mercado did not receive any extortion "letter or threat," from the NPA, Samarita said, although it was clear that the armed men targeted Mercado's company "because they did not touch the other buses, which were parked right in front those of HM."

Samarita said each bus cost around P4 million, placing the total damage at around P44 million.

Samarita also noted that the power supply was cut off only at the motorpool, preventing the security cameras from capturing the fire.

He said investigators were trying to figure out if the ongoing dispute between two labor unions in the company had any connection to the fire.

No one was hurt in the arson. The armed men also returned the guards' cellular phones before they escaped, he said.

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Tags: Laguna , Military , Philippines , Violence

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