DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año said on Tuesday the latest New People’s Army (NPA) assault at the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay currently under construction was just for “money.”

Año added that the Communist rebels are now recognized as “a rag tag group of extortionists and ordinary bandits.”

“Attacks like this only prove that they are ordinary bandits. Kung talagang pag-unlad ng bansa ang hangarin nila, hindi nila sisirain ang mga proyekto na makatutulong nang malaki sa ating mga kababayan,” Año said in a press statement.

On Tuesday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) PRO 5 reported an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up a dump truck owned by by the contractor, E.M. Cuerpo Inc. at 10:05 am at the airport’s site at Sitio Palanog, Barangay Gapo, Daraga, Albay.

A group of soldiers in a nearby detachment of the Philippine Army immediately responded and fought the rebels.

“We are currently conducting intelligence operations to identify the people involved. Security review is already being undertaken by 903 Brigade Commander and the PD, Albay PPO. We will get to the bottom of this,” Año said.

The recent attack, he said, was probably motivated by the NPA’s demands for Revolutionary tax to fund their terroristic activities.

“Wala ng idolohiyang ipinaglalaban ang mga kaliwa. Puro perwisyo na lang sila sa ating mga kababayan. Sa pamamagitan ng mga pag-atake na ito, patuloy silang nakakapangikil ng pera sa kanilang mga biktima. We will put a stop to it,” the DILG secretary said.

In 2017, at least 10 heavy equipment of the E.M. Cuerpo Inc. were also burned by Communist rebels.

Año, meanwhile, urged local government units (LGUs) to be vigilant in protecting infrastructure projects within their localities that may be targeted by NPA’s attacks.

LGUs were also encouraged to coordinate with the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to strengthen their security.

“The NPA will continue with their shenanigans, hence, LGUs must always be on their toes to protect their jurisdictions from their attacks, “ the DILG secretary said.

“Hindi na lang ngayon mga inosenteng tao ang kanilang pinupuntirya, pati mga proyekto ng pamahalaan ay sinasalakay na din nila. To the LGUs, be prepared. Laging nakahandang umalalay ang PNP at AFP sa inyo,” Año added.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program, the Bicol International Airport is one of the priority projects and expected to be finished in 2021.

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