1 killed, 6 hurt in Misamis Oriental demolition

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

LUGAIT, Misamis Oriental -- One person died while six others were injured in a demolition that turned bloody along the highway in Barangay Calangahan here Wednesday.

The fatality was identified as Nixxon Tungao, 35, who sustained a gunshot wound on his stomach. He died before reaching a hospital in nearby Iligan City.

The injured victims were identified as Jenny Arcadio, 45; Leonara Tungao, 41; Julius Oclarit; a one-year-old baby; and two female police officers.

Residents scamper as the police allegedly lobbed the second teargas during the demolition of shanties in Barangay Calangahan in Lugait town. (Contributed photo by STAND IIT)

Tungao was allegedly shot by a policeman as the demolition team broke into the picket lines to demolish makeshift shanties of around 200 residents.

The commotion started when residents threw rocks at the demolition team personnel, who protected themselves by wearing helmets and carrying shields, TV footages on Wednesday showed.

About 100 police personnel were deployed in the area.

Lawyer Alex Cabornay, chief of National Bureau of Investigation in Iligan City, said Tungao’s parents filed a complaint to his office to probe their son’s death.

The demolition team, headed by Sheriff Norberto Labis, was positioned on the right side of the highway going to Iligan City while the residents stayed on the opposite side.

Labis told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that his team has to implement the demolition by all means.

Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano arrived in the area to negotiate with the residents and the demolition team.

The demolition stranded about 5,000 commuters and motorists coming in and out of Iligan City since 9 a.m. until 5:20 p.m. Wednesday after reaching a temporary negotiation.

About 200 vehicles from Cagayan de Oro City and another 100 vehicles from Iligan City were stranded. Passengers to Cagayan de Oro City, including those headed to Laguindingan airport, reportedly missed their flights.

Meanwhile, according to Gina Lubguban, vice chairperson of Albidec (Alyansa ng mga Biktima ng Demolisyon sa Calangahan), they pleaded for negotiation but the police were allegedly insensitive and started to throw teargas on them.

“Gilabayan mi’g teargas taliwala nga nakita nila nga ang mga frontliners mga babae ug mga bata (They still threw teargas at us despite the women and children in the frontline),” Lubguban said.

It was almost seven months when the demolition took place in Barangay Calangahan after Achondoa Agro-Industrial Company owned by Emma Anora claimed the disputed land.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Achondoa Agro-Industrial Company.

“We didn’t feel defeat. Instead, we feel courageous to fight back and defend our rights of decent living. Padayon pakigbisog especially nakalasan nagkinabuhi samong han-ay (We will persist with our struggle especially that we lost a life in our ranks), she added.

But Labis said they never investigated any violence. “The squatters threw rocks at us mao nag-start ang samok (that’s why the trouble started),” he said.

He added that the residents allegedly planted a Molotov bomb, an improvised bomb and aimed at their (police) barricades, but wala nibuto (but, didn’t go off).

Demolition in Lugait, Misamis Oriental
MISAMIS ORIENTAL. Residents rally and setup road blocks along the national highway in Barangay Calangahan in Lugait town to prevent entry of the demolition team including the police. (Richel V. Umel)

Labis added the teargas was supposed to disperse the agitated residents.

“Naay Court order, dugay na gi-release. Dili na need ipakita kay pildi na sila sa kaso. Wala’y pwesto ang nego kay ang husay naa sa korte. Kung unsa’y naa sa Court order, kung ejection, igo rami mo-execute (There is a Court order. It was release long past. There is no need to show them because they already lost the case. The negotiation doesn’t have a place here. Whatever is in the Court order, if it is ejection, we are here to execute it),” Labis told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

Joel Macabale, Anakpawis staff, said his group immediately responded to the victims’ call for help and saw the harassment allegedly perpetrated by the demolition team.

“We are here as support group para dal-on ang isyu ug tingog sa mga biktima to collectively fight para sa ila rights,” Macabale said.

“Sakit makita mga tao nga gipamusil and harassed. Angay lang nga ipanawagan sa gobyerno nga magpakabana aron tagaan og hustisya ang mga biktima (It pains to see them (protesters) shot at and harassed. It is but right to urge the government to give justice to the victims),” said Markey Magallanes, Stand IIT chairperson.

Jean Tungao, the mother of the one-year old baby, is begging the LGU to help them and stop the demolition.

“Nakuyapan ko human na suffocate akong anak sa teargas. Niapil ko sa picket para panalipdan among balay (I collapsed after my baby got suffocated because of the teargas. I joined the picket to protect our house),” she told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

She added that her group picketed so that the demolition team could not demolish their houses.

“Pero human labay teargas, sunod-sunod nga buto sa pusil ang nisunod. Girakrakan mao naigo patay si Nixxon apil si Arcadia naigo pud (But after they lobbed the teargas, continuous shots were fired. The shots hit Nixxon and killed him; and Arcadia was hit too),” she said.

“Naigo ko sa teargas sa akong tiil, hapdos. Ang mga bata nga naigo sa teargas gidali namog humol sa tubig, ang uban gidagan sa baybay,” Lubguban said.

A police told Sun.Star he got hit by rocks thrown by protesters. Labis also claimed that many of the police were injured because of the rocks thrown at them.

The demolition has been temporarily suspended for further negotiations Thursday after Emano persuaded both camps.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 05, 2013.

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