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 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.
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.