NPA rebels at­tack, dam­age so­lar farm

BACOLOD CITY — New Peo­ple's Army rebels Thurs­day evening at­tacked and in­flicted da­m­ages on the so­lar farm in Cadiz City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal, which is re­puted to be the big­gest in South­east Asia and the 7th in the world.

The Freeman - - REGION - Gil­bert P. Bay­oran,

The armed men, es­ti­mated at 17, blasted with hand grenades and M203 grenade launch­ers, and fired at the so­lar power farm owned by the He­lios So­lar En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion at Barangay Ti­nampa-an, Cadiz City, for about four min­utes, ac­cord­ing to the mil­i­tary and the po­lice.

Dam­aged were 90 im­ported so­lar power pan­els sit­u­ated at the south­ern por­tion of the so­lar farm and a CCTV cam­era. But no one was hurt dur­ing the at­tack.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Dar­rell Bañez, 62nd In­fantry Bat­tal­ion com­man­der, placed the es­ti­mated dam­age at P3.1 mil­lion. He urged the pub­lic to re­port sight­ings of armed men in their ar­eas, as he con­demned the bar­baric act of the group re­spon­si­ble for the atroc­ity.

Re­cov­ered at the scene of in­ci­dent were 109 empty shells of as­sorted cal­iber of high­pow­ered firearms, in­clud­ing M16 as­sault ri­fles and an M203 grenade launcher, two empty mag­a­zines of M16 ar­malite ri­fle, and two fir­ing pins of hand grenades.

The P10-bil­lion so­lar farm of He­lios So­lar En­ergy Corp. was de­vel­oped through a part­ner­ship be­tween Gre­go­rio Araneta Inc. and Soleq, one of South­east Asia's largest so­lar in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers, which mother com­pany is Equis.

The 132.5-megawatt so­lar gen­er­a­tion fa­cil­ity with 427,392 so­lar pan­els, lo­cated in a 176-hectare area, was in­au­gu­rated in March this year.

Based on po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Cadiz City Mayor Pa­trick Es­calante said armed men, sus­pected to be NPA rebels who were re­ported to be speak­ing in Hili­gaynon and Ce­buano, po­si­tioned them­selves out­side the perime­ter fence of the so­lar farm.

The rebels re­port­edly tried to ex­tort money from the man­age­ment of the com­pany, added the mayor, while stress­ing the need for an im­me­di­ate ac­tion to be taken by au­thor­i­ties in or­der to as­sure in­vestors of se­cu­rity.

Sol­diers of the 62IB are now pur­su­ing the armed sus­pects, in co­or­di­na­tion with the 6th Spe­cial Ac­tion Bat­tal­ion and Re­gional Pub­lic Safety Bat­tal­ion 18 of the PNP.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NE­GROS OCC. PROV'L GOV'T

The P10-bil­lion so­lar farm, lo­cated in Ha­cienda Paz, Barangay Ti­nam­paan, Cadiz City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal of He­lios So­lar En­ergy Corp., is South­east Asia's big­gest of its kind and 7th largest in the world.

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