By FROILAN GALLARDO
and NITZ ARANCON
NEW People’s Army (NPA) rebels yesterday attacked and disarmed guards of the independent power producer Minergy Power Corp. in Misamis Oriental, as a statement against the alleged pollution blamed on the company.
Lt. Col. Anthony Derilo, commander of the Army 57th Infantry Battalion, said the rebels carted away five high-powered AK47 rifles, a radio and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the Minergy guards at Barangay Quezon Heights in Balingasag town.
Derilo said the rebels did not a fire a single bullet when they disarmed the guards, and then they fled towards the uplands.
The police however gave another version of the story. Lt. Princess Joy Velarde, spokesperson of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Police Office, said the rebels fired their weapons and disarmed five guards at around 6:30 am.
Velarde said the guards were riding a vehicle when they were stopped by heavily armed rebels.
“On the way sila sa ilang quarry site sa Minergy. While na-a sila sa dalan, gipapotokan sila,” Velarde said.
Col. Robert Roy Bahian, police director for Misamis Oriental, rushed to Balingasag in order to assess the situation.
With Balingasag police chief Maj. Cecillo Orcullo, Bahian led investigators in finding out what really happened.
Velarde said initial results of the police investigation showed that the rebels were interested on the guns of the guards.
Nicholas Marino, spokesperson of the NPA in Misamis Oriental, said it took only five minutes to disarm the guards assigned there by AY 76 Security Agency.
He said they seized four AK47 rifles (not five as claimed by the military), several radios and 200 rounds of ammunition.
Marino said the NPA in Misamis Oriental decided to raid the outpost of the guards to teach Minergy “a lesson,” accusing it of being a pollutant.
Minergy, a sister company of the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco), operates a 165-mw coal-fired power plant along the shorelines of Macajalar Bay.
“Minergy dumps highly toxic wastes into the bay and a hole in that quarry site,” Marino said.
Marino said residents have blamed the Minergy plant for various diseases, including asthma. He said villagers living around the plant have long been complaining of dizziness and even sore eyes since September 2017 when the power plant started full operations.
The Misamis Oriental provincial board has conducted an investigation but nothing has come out of it.
The management of Minergy has declined to comment at presstime.