Congress probe sought on Bukidnon shooting

By Filane Mikee Cervantes and Wilnard Bacelonia

April 25, 2022, 6:08 pm

MANILA – A resolution was filed at the House of Representatives calling for an investigation on the shooting in an ancestral land of the Manobo tribe in Bukidnon visited by presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman.

Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite filed on Monday House Resolution 2561, which urges the House committee on human rights to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation on the incident.

“The violence and the attacks against the indigenous peoples (IP) have been ongoing with impunity for quite some time now without resolution and proper intervention by the government,” the House lawmakers said in the resolution.

Last Tuesday, De Guzman's party, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), said the meeting with the leaders of the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe in Barangay Butong was marred by gunshots.

At least five people were injured, four of them members of the Manobo-Pulangihon indigenous tribe.

The shooting came as the tribe protested the alleged land-grabbing incident on their ancestral land.

The tribe claimed that their families were forcibly relocated from their settlement along the Pulangi River to the disputed area.

De Guzman's camp said they were within a property of more than 900 hectares reportedly being administered by Quezon town Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III in Sitio Kiantig, Barangay San Jose when a group of 50 men fired shots at them.

The land in Sitio Kiantig is disputed by the Manobo-Pulangihon and Kiantig Development Corporation which controls the Kiantig Pineapple Company.

“The recent shooting incident that includes the party of Ka Leody De Guzman is emblematic of how our justice system continues to fail them, an act which members of Congress should not countenance,” the lawmakers said.

Policy to fully end violence

Senator Risa Hontiveros also filed a resolution to probe the shooting and look into land disputes that have been causes of conflicts.

"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 happen over and over again because we don't have a policy that can fully end violence, especially against our IPs). It’s time we have proper legislation that can address this,” she said in a statement Monday after filing Senate Resolution 999.

As one of the vulnerable groups in the society, she said IP must be protected against violence and assisted in their claims over ancestral lands.

The police have identified five security guards as persons of interest and are verifying if the security agency has filed certificates of exemptions to carry firearms before the Commission on Elections.

Acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar denounced the shooting, as he expressed hope that the people behind it will be held accountable.

“Violence has no place in any civilized society and we condemn the incident in Bukidnon where gunshots were allegedly fired against the camp of Ka Leody de Guzman,” Andanar said.

He also urged the local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute those behind this "dastardly" act. (PNA)