Armed 'goons' killed farmer in Bukidnon

MARAMAG, Bukidnon — A leader of a farmers group in Bukidnon's Maramag town was killed by armed men believed to be members of the security group of the Villalon Ranch there.

Welcie Gica, 28, was shot dead on Wednesday at a meeting between framer-claimants and supposedly "armed goons" of Ernesto Villalon, owner of the ranch over which Gica's group has been claiming tenure rights under the government's Community-Based Forest Management Program, said Task Force Mapalad (TFM), a farmers' federation advocating agrarian reform and rural development.

SP02 Roel Zapanta of the Maramag town police quoted witnesses as saying Gica was shot in Barangay Panalsalan around 9 a.m. Gica left behind his wife and two sons, aged three and four years old.

Citing an autopsy report, police investigator SP01 Jonathan Bataykan said Gica was shot in the left armpit and in the neck with a Carbine, with one bullet exiting in his mouth, causing his death.

According to Joseph Coles, TFM coordinator for Mindanao, all the nine suspects witnesses identified were arrested but were released by the Maramag police before dawn Thursday.

Police identified those arrested as Milo Ceballos, Ruerico Coronel, Rey Coronel, Edwin Coronel, Rowen Ragrag, Felipe Rayon, Benito Imostino, Rechipen de Asis and Quico Atsacoso.

Asked why the police released the suspects, SP01 Zapanta said "We released the eight, except Milo Ceballos, who witnesses identified as the one who shot Gica. But he was able to escape."

TFM condemns Gica's killing

Meanwhile, Coles said the TFM condemns the killing of Gica, who is a member of Panalsalan Dagumbaan Tribal Association (Padata), a group staking out for land tenure rights at the Villalon Ranch.

"The killing of Gica and other harassment against farmer-claimants in various landholdings in Bukidnon are desperate moves of some land owners who have lost legitimate basis of using public lands," Coles said.

Moreover, he claimed the killing of Gica "was not an isolated case. We take this as a signal for heightened violence in many ranches and public lands where farmer organizations are fighting for their legitimate land rights."

According to Coles, Gica was with 26 other Padata members in a meeting with alleged goons of the Villalon Ranch to appeal for a stop of harassment against farmers in the landholding.

Padata and Alyansa Bukidnon farmer-members at a dialogue with Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Zubiri on land-tenure issue last Wednesday. TFM photo

In that meeting, backpacks of the farmers were collected by the goons for security reasons. “The backpacks were returned except Gica's. He protested and he was shot," Coles said.

The meeting at the Villalon Ranch was held while other Padata and Alyansa Bukidnon farmer-members were having a dialogue with Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Zubiri on land-tenure issue.

Last year, the Padata members demanded the resignation of a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) official for supposedly being party to the issuance of a fake Free and Informed Prior Consent (FPIC) to a group supposedly used by Ernesto Villalon to retain his control over the 480-hectare ranch.

Villalon supposedly used the fake FPIC to extend his expired Forestland Grazing Management Agreement Contract.

Coles said the Villalon Ranch management cannot be reached for comments as of posting time. — LBG, GMA News

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options