Passenger van set ablaze in Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 Nov) – Unidentified armed men burned a passenger van from this city in a coastal village in Maasim town in Sarangani Province on Tuesday night.

Sr. Insp. Nemesio Calipjo Jr., chief of the Maasim municipal police station, said Wednesday the van was en route to Maitum town in Sarangani when it was flagged down and torched by the suspects at a portion of the national highway in Barangay Lumasal around 8 p.m.

Citing accounts from witnesses, he said one of the van’s passengers initially requested to disembark at the barangay proper of Lumasal.

But Calipjo said a group of armed men were already waiting in the area and ordered the van’s driver and passengers to disembark.

“They poured gasoline on the van, set it on fire and hastily left the scene,” he said.

The police official said they are currently determining the identity of the suspects and their possible affiliation.

Several passenger buses, vans, and company delivery trucks had been torched since late last year in parts of Sarangani in daring attacks claimed by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Last month, suspected NPA rebels burned a delivery van of the KCC Mall of GenSan at a portion of Barangay Tuyan in Malapatan, Sarangani.

In all instances, the suspects, who introduced themselves as NPA members, did not harm any of the drivers and passengers.

But in the latest incident in Maasim town, none of the suspects reportedly made any claim nor declared affiliation to any group.

“The investigation is still ongoing and a (police) team is currently in the area to track down the suspects,” Calipjo said.

Investigators are still in the process of identifying the owner of the Toyota Hi-Ace passenger van as it was totally burned and no recognizable markings were found on the unit. (MindaNews)