The Police Regional Office in Northern Mindanao (PRO-10) has ordered the Bukidnon Police Provincial Office (BPPO) to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the shooting incident that marred the visit of presidential aspirant Leody De Guzman.
In a phone interview Wednesday, PRO-10 spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar said BPPO was instructed to identify the gunmen in Tuesday’s incident in Quezon town, which led to the wounding of several people.
Olaivar said they are verifying reports that the gunmen who fired at De Guzman’s group were “company guards” of an agricultural farm in the area.
Police earlier said de Guzman, along with senatorial aspirants Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo, was in the area to speak with the tribal families claiming that the pineapple farm belongs to their ancestral domain.
“We received information that the guards made a warning shot as they (the camp of De Guzman and a group of Manobo-Pulangihon Indigenous People) entered the area that does not allegedly belong to them. For the alleged guards, we still need to identify them as that is the only information we received,” Olaivar said.
In a statement immediately after the incident, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) said the tribal group is protesting the alleged land-grabbing of their ancestral land.
A video footage of the incident shows several tribal members holding documents supposedly showing their ownership of the land.
However, Olaivar said information from the Bukidnon police indicated an existing land dispute in the area, which is being heard by the court.
“There is still no court order for them (Manobo-Pulangihon tribe) to occupy parcels of the Montalban ranch,” Olaivar said quoting information from the Bukidnon police office.
In his Twitter post, De Guzman named one of the wounded persons as Nanie Abella, a farmer group organizer in Mindanao.
The Quezon Municipal Police Station (QMPS), meanwhile, identified the other victim as Charita del Socorro, 42, a local resident.
During an online briefer Tuesday evening, De Guzman could not confirm if he was the target of the shooting as he was just a visitor in the area.
However, he said he would not rule out the possibility of being the target as the first bullet fired went straight at Abella, who was at least one foot away from him.
“It’s hard to say that I am the target. It’s hard to confirm,” he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency