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Leody’s team shot at in Bukidnon

Mayen Jaymalin – The Philippine Star, April 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Five people were wounded when the team of Partido ng Lakas ng Masa (PLM) presidential candidate Leody de Guzman was attacked by armed men in Quezon, Bukidnon yesterday.

De Guzman was in Quezon town to support leaders and members of the Manobo-Pulangiyon, who were allegedly displaced from their ancestral land by a politician.

A report from the Northern Mindanao police said the shooting happened in Barangay San Jose at around 12:20 p.m.

At a virtual conference, De Guzman said they were holding a peaceful rally when security guards hired by Mayor Pablo Lorenzo fired upon them without any provocation.

A video of the incident uploaded on Facebook showed De Guzman giving a comment at the disputed property moments before the shooting happened.

“This land was seized by a politician, and we do not understand why the government cannot implement the law that they granted the land to the Manobo despite them having all the documents saying the land is theirs,” he said in Filipino.

De Guzman was with PLM senatorial candidates Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo at the venue.

After a few minutes, gunshots rang out, and De Guzman and other participants scampered for safety. Cabonegro and D’Angelo were not hurt in the attack.

One of the wounded was farmer’s group organizer Nanie Abela, who was beside De Guzman during the attack. Police identified another wounded person, 42-year-old Charita del Socorro.

The names of three other wounded members are not yet known.

De Guzman said the victims’ wounds were not fatal, but needed medical attention. He vowed to support the wounded in filing a case against those behind the shooting. The labor leader urged President Duterte to take immediate action and for other presidential candidates to stand up against attacks directed toward indigenous people.

“These incidents happen with the collusion between the LGU (local government unit) and other agencies of the government that should be taking care of the rights of indigenous peoples,” De Guzman said in Filipino.

He noted that military men were present at the incident, but did not take any action to stop the shooting. He said they were fired at by security guards for about 15 minutes.

PLM vice presidential candidate Walden Bello and senatorial candidate Sonny Matula condemned the shooting incident.

“This kind of violence should not be tolerated,” Bello said, as he expressed relief that his running mate and other senatorial candidates were unhurt.

Cabonegro said the shooting incident was not an isolated case because “landgrabbers” are now attacking indigenous people who want to reclaim their ancestral home.

Police probers said the group of tribal members “forcibly” entered the premises of the Kiantig Pineapple Co. before the shooting happened.

“We know that we are dealing with the rich and powerful in this fight. However, it’s different when we are directly subjected to violence. Our lives are worthless to them,” De Guzman said.

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

Comelec condemns shooting

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) condemned the incident, as it vowed to use the full force of the law to hold the persons behind the incident accountable.

“This is a cowardly act that should be condemned by peace-loving Filipinos,” Comelec Commissioner George Garcia told reporters in a Viber message yesterday. “If this is an election-related incident, count the Comelec in to use all our powers to get to the bottom of this and hold accountable the culprits and face the full force of the law.”

A similar gunshot firing incident reportedly happened in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, allegedly between two political families running in the May 9 national and local elections. The Comelec said that it is still gathering information on the incident.

The Comelec said that Tubaran and Malabang towns in Lanao del Sur are already placed under Comelec control pursuant to a March 25 resolution of the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC) which was previously led by Commissioner Socorro Inting. 
   The Comelec said Inting was on work related to overseas voting when the resolution was passed by the CBFSC and Commissioner Aimee Ferolino was acting chair.

In a statement, Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan said that he condemns the use of violence related to the May 9 national and local elections as he vowed to conduct an investigation on the shooting incidents in Bukidnon and Lanao. – Emmanuel Tupas, Helen Flores, Robertzon Ramirez

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