DAVAO CITY – Witnesses of the shooting incident in Sitio Tibugawan, Barangay Kawayan, San Fernando, Bukidnon recalled how ‘scary’ the incident was last Saturday, July 30.
The wedding celebration of Misay Banban and Olminln Bangunan was disrupted after members of an alleged paramilitary group indiscriminately fired at the crowd of 80 households.
The residents said the suspects, led by Butsoy Salusad, were atop a hill, overlooking the Tigwahanon community.
A teacher in a neighboring village where the incident happened was there to get phone signal when he heard the gunshots.
“At of 9:00 in the morning, we heard two gunshots coming from a hill. We saw armed men,” he told Davao Today.
The hill was just 50 meters away from their village. The two gunshots was then followed with series of gun fires that lasted for “10 minutes”, the teacher said.
“I told the people to drop,” he said.
He said a pregnant woman was hit on the chest.
The woman, Makinet Guyuran, 25 from Tibugawan, died. She was nine months pregnant.
The teacher said he looked for his students and found four of them wounded.
He said that after the 10-minute gun fire, they stayed in the community for 30 minutes gathering the people to safety.
At 11:00 am, they left the community by batches, through a river. The community teacher brought with him the wounded people to the nearest municipal hospital in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Suspects were fully armed
Just an hour before the incident, Arnold Manhura, Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative of Barangay Kawayan, told Davao Today that the suspect, Butsoy Salusad approached him.
Manhura is a resident of Tibugawan and was at Sitio Spring (30 minutes away from the Tibugawan) at that time when he was approached by Salusad’s group of Salusad.
“They called my attention, so I approached them,” he said adding that he was asked to confirm if he was really the IP mandatory representative.
Manhura described Salusad’s group of more than ten men in military uniform, fully armed.
According to Manhura, Salusad is a known fugitive in their town. He said Salusad has a warrant of arrest for being a suspect on the killing of Jimmy Libuyong, the village chief Barangay Dao, in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
“They passed by the town center, [but] they were not arrested by the soldiers,” Manhura said.
Manhura said that Salusad’s group asked him on how to get to Tibugawan.
“Ayaw mo’g adto (Don’t go there),” he told the group.
He added that three residents from Sitio Spring was brought as guide by the group when they left.
Manhura said he heard gunshots then he saw the armed men returned to Sitio Spring.
“I hid, and when I saw them left, I climbed the hill going to Tibugawan,” he said.
“I saw the wounded, the dead woman, and the kitchen wares used at the wedding, the farm animals, and the rice were scattered all around,” said Manhura.
“It was hurting, because they were innocent,” he said.
Manhura said that he assisted the community members from leaving to seek refuge in the town hall of Barangay Kawayan.
Internally displaced persons
Residents of Sitio Tibugawan who left their community sought refuge at the town hall in Barangay Kawayan, which is about three kilometers away from where the shooting happened.“They were like a mob, running towards our house to seek help,” said Barangay Captain Danilo Jalandoni.
He said they already heard the gunshots and then saw the community members coming in. “They are all traumatized,” he said.Jalandoni said he brought one of the wounded to the nearest hospital and asked help from the provincial government.
He said the barangay immediately provided shelter and food aid for the evacuees.
“The provincial government assisted us in transferring the wounded to the provincial hospital,” he said.
Store owners outside the multi-purpose hall said the evacuees could not eat when they arrived in the town center in Barangay Kawayan.
The evacuees stayed for a day in the multi-purpose hall on July 31, Sunday. They proceeded to the Bukidnon Provincial Capitol in Malaybalay City on Monday, August 1. (davaotoday.com)