Hearings at House, Senate sought into shooting incident in Bukidnon

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Hearings at House, Senate sought into shooting incident in Bukidnon
Photo of presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman with some who were shot during a protest in Quezon, Bukidnon, April 19, 2022
Released / Partido Lakas ng Masa party-list

MANILA, Philippines — Resolutions have been filed in both houses of Congress for hearings into the April 19 shooting incident in Quezon, Bukidnon that happened as Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) candidates and members of the Manobo-Pulangiyon community were discussing issues related to the community's ancestral domain.

Five people, including four Lumad farmers and a Lumad advocate, were wounded in the incident.

"This violence and the attacks against indigenous people have been ongoing with impunity for quite some time now without resolution and proper intervention by the government," a House resolution filed Monday by Reps. Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite of Bayan Muna party-list read. 

"The recent shooting incident...is emblematic of how our justice system continues to fail them, an act which members of Congress should not countenance," it added. 

"Land disputes have been a longstanding issue in our country that often end in violence," Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who filed a resolution for hearings at the Senate, said in a separate statement.

"Paulit-ulit ang ganitong mga insidente dahil wala tayong maayos na polisiya na tuluyang magwawakas sa karahasan, lalo na laban sa ating katutubo (These incidents keep happening because we do not have a sound policy to end the violence, especially against indigenous peoples). It’s time we have proper legislation that can address this," she also said. 

Congress has oversight powers on the implementation of laws like the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act. It may also hold hearings in aid of legislation.

It is unlikely, however, that hearings will take place during the 18th Congress as several lawmakers seeking reelection are focused on campaign activities. 

Bukidnon shooting

On April 19, PLM presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman, and two bets from his senatorial slate Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo, and the Manobo community were met with gunshots when they visited the indigenous peoples' ancestral land which was the subject of a dispute. The PLM candidates were unharmed. 

PLM has claimed that the community's land was seized by Kiantig Development Corp., a company involved in the pineapple business, which Quezon Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III was reportedly linked with. 

PLM vice presidential candidate Walden Bello said that such violence should not be tolerated.

READ: De Guzman calls on other presidential bets to support and defend IP rights

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) also condemned the incident, saying it will use all of its powers to hold the culprits accountable, according to poll commissioner George Garcia.

Frustrated murder raps filed

Four individuals involved in the shooting are facing frustrated murder charges at the provincial prosecutor's office, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo told Philstar.com on Tuesday. 

The confiscated firearms are undergoing ballistics examination.

"Bukidnon PPO (police provincial office) already coordinated with the regional Comelec to determine whether or not the security agency applied for gun ban exemption of their firearms," she said in an online exchange. 

Police probers earlier said that tribal members "forcibly" entered the premises of Kiantig's pineapple plantation before the shooting happened. 

Police Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar, spokesperson for the Northern Mindanao police, previously said De Guzman’s team did not coordinate with the local police for area security.







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