By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – At least 40 heavily armed men in military uniforms torched a dredger barge, Friday night, on the bank of Agusan River in Purok 1-B, Barangay Lingayao, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte province, police reported Monday.
Sketchy report reaching the regional headquarters of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) based in Camp Col. Rafael C. Rodriguez, the Agusan del Norte Police Provincial Office (PPO) and Las Nieves Municipal Police Station (MPS) said the unidentified men, armed with automatic rifles, arrived at 9 p.m. Friday.
“Six from the group rode on a pump boat and went to the barge owned by Ark Green Dynamic Resources Corporation. The group boarded the barge and introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and commanded the four men working there, namely, Ferdinand C. Duranggo (boat captain), Alfredo B. Velasco (dredger operator), Ariel A. Lopez (crew) and Dennis D. Vintuan (security guard) to surrender their cellphones and kneel down because they were only after the Ark Corporation,” the Agusan del Norte PPO and Las Nieves report said.
The armed men also took Vintuan’s shotgun before setting the main, dredger and conveyor engines on fire, as well as two of the barge’s generators.
After setting the dredger barge on fire, the armed men immediately left and sailed towards the municipality of Ezperanza, Agusan del Sur, field report added.
Duranggo and his men were left unharmed.
As of press time, management of the company is still validating the total worth of damage on the dredger barge.
Combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade and 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade, supported by the Agusan Police Provincial Offices of the two provinces are still pursuing the fleeing perpetrators.
Meanwhile, the regional command of PRO 13 ordered the Agusan del Norte PPO and Las Nieves MPS to conduct further investigation to determine the motive of the incident and identities of the perpetrators.