Alleged NPA unit targeting power companies for extortion

ALLEGED members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) have attempted to extort money from two electric companies in Pangasinan prompting tighter security measures for their office and power lines.

Engr. Rodrigo Corpuz, general manager of Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (Cenpelco), told the KBP Forum that he received two calls from a person who introduced himself as an NPA leader asking money to buy firearms for their recruits.

Corpuz said he explained to the call the nature of their business being a public service utility, and not a private entity.

But the caller called him again for the second time and threatened that Corpuz should not wait for the third call before he acts lest something bad would happen to his company.

Corpuz said he had to change his mobile phone number and he had not received threatening calls since.

Laywer Randy Castillan, legal officer of the Dagupan Electric Corp., told the same forum that they also received a similar call demanding money to buy firearms.

Castillan said there were no other details as to when and where the money would be given.

“We took it seriously by strengthening our security measures and raising a red alert status,” Castillan said.

Meanwhile, Melma Batario, regional communications and public affairs officer of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), also said in the forum that they regularly inspect their transmission lines.

But since they cannot inspect 24/7, she said NGCP appeals to the communities to help them by reporting the presence of suspicious-looking persons in their areas.

Batario added that they have also intensified their information campaign.

She said they have established coordination with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in securing their transmission facilities.

Batario said they also continuously appeal to the people not to build structures underneath their transmission lines. (Tita Roces)