Human Rights Committee to probe Lugait demolition

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013


THE Committee on Human Rights (CHR) in Northern Mindanao Region will conduct a separate investigation regarding the violent demolition in Lugait town in Misamis Oriental if there is a reason for them to do so.

Victorio Aleria Jr., CHR regional supervising investigator, said if they are not satisfied with the findings or (based on the CHR-10’s judgment) something is lacking in the investigation, the CHR will interpose.

But at present, Aleria said, there is no reason yet for them to launch a separate investigation.

“We will go over with the results of the investigation if there is a need for us to intervene,” he said.

On December 4, around 200 families were displaced in a violent dispersal that killed one resident and wounded six persons who stood their ground against roughly a hundred law enforcers and members of the demolition team. READ: 1 killed, 6 hurt in Misamis Oriental demolition

The victim was identified as Nixxon Tungao, 35, who did not reach the hospital in Iligan City. He succumbed to the gunshot wound in his stomach.

[READ: 1 killed, 6 hurt in Misamis Oriental demolition]

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Iligan City has committed to investigate the violent dispersal that took place in Barangay Calangahan in Lugait.

Aleria added that they are giving the law enforcers the chance to do their job, that is, to investigate.

Apart from conducting a separate investigation, the CHR-10 serves as a monitoring body to check if other government agencies taking part in the investigation are functioning.

Not notified

Aleria said the CHR was made unaware that a demolition would take place in the contested area.

He added: “Under the law, we are mandated to observe the conduct of a demolition.”

He said in almost all conducts of demolition under their jurisdiction, the CHR has been observing with the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP).

Aleria said CHR assisted the family of the victim to follow up NBI-Iligan regarding the autopsy of Tungao.

However, he added that the NBI-Iligan has not yet started the investigation.

Indecision

When asked if there were human rights violations during the demolition, Aleria said: “We cannot say right now because we have not yet conducted an investigation.”

He added that although there is violence, and someone died, it does not mean that human rights were violated right away.

However, he said: “Those occupying the land subject for demolition are entitled for a humane and just treatment.”

With regard to the scope of CHR’s intervention during demolitions, Aleria said their job is limited to see whether the conduct of a demolition is humane or not, or if it is in accordance with the law.

But when CHR-10 will intervene, he said they will first gather evidence from the witnesses. Then, CHR will conduct an autopsy of the killed person. After that, they will refer the case to the prosecutor’s office because it has the power to evaluate.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 17, 2013.

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