Philex charges NGO worker, 2 others for arson

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Philex Mining Company filed a complaint against an activist and official of a disaster-relief and livelihood support organization after she was arrested without warrant by officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and detained without charges by officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Philex filed complaints of arson and robbery with intimidation at the Benguet provincial prosecutor’s office against Sarah Abellon-Alikes, a member of the board of directors of the Regional Development Center-Kattinulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan (RDC-Kaduami) and two others.

In a press release emailed by the Police Regional Office Cordillera, two men where identified as Promencio Cortez and Marciano Sagun. Police alleged that Alikes, Cortez and Sagun were among the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who torched two Philex trucks early morning of February 9. The government forces also alleged that Alikes and Cortez are high ranking officials of the communist group.

Benguet police director Florante Camuyot said that there were 5 gunmen armed with assault rifles who flagged down the trucks. They did not harm the drivers Rogelio de la Cruz and Danny Butay Aglugob and their security escort Danny Halip Bag-an. They, however, took Bag-an’s service firearm and handheld rardio.

The two Volvo 10FM trucks were loaded with ore concentrates headed for Poro Point, La Union when they were torched around 7:20 in the morning along Philex road in Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet.

The Cordillera police in an earlier press release said the three suspects were arrested while aboard two get away vehicles. The police intercepted one of the vehicles at Gibraltar village, near the access road to Itogon. The second vehicle was caught along Ambuklao Road.

According to Philex Padcal mines legal officer, lawyer Eduardo Aratas the trucks were on their way to Poro Point port, La Union to deliver the concentrate when a group of armed men who introduced themselves as NPA rebels flagged the trucks down and torched them.

According to the complaint, PS/Insp Jeffrey Vicente and PO2 Roger Ecao were passing through Sitio Tapak, Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet when they saw a roadblock, the trucks and the get away vehicles parked a few meters away from the Philex trucks. The police officers alleged that they saw the three accused together with other armed men when they passed by.

The complaint said that an unidentified person approached Vicente and told him to return the rope after passing (tied across the road). The police officers went straight to the Barangay Hall of Ampucao, Itogon after passing through the roadblock.

“On the way to Ampucao Barangay Hall, they heard an explosion and saw smoke coming from the trucks,” they stated in the complaint.

Ampucao barangay hall is some 47 minutes ride away from Gibraltar and Ambuklao. # nordis.net

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