TAGUM CITY, Philippines – Mayor Allan Rellon ordered the Lapanday Foods Corporations security guards to stop attacking farmers after a second shooting incident transpired inside the contested banana plantation area in Barangay Madaum here.
“Can you tell your subordinates there to stop muna? Stop attacking this people,” Rellon told Lapanday’s Security Manager Roberto Lumactod during a meeting called for by the city’s crisis and management committee Wednesday, afternoon.
Two more protesters were injured after security personnel of the Lapanday allegedly fired at them around 8:40 am on Wednesday.
Ronald Patindol sustained gunshot wounds on his leg while a bullet razed Randy Rana’s left arm.
The first violent incident injured seven protesters including a 16-year-old. Two are in critical conditions.
Farmers said they were preparing to till their reclaimed land on Monday morning when alleged security forces of the company fired at them. The farmers said they even took off their shirts in order to prove they were unarmed.
Farmer Jose Balucos sustained a gunshot wound.
In an interview with Davao Today, Balucos, 43 said their wounds were mostly on their backs and legs which he said proves that they were shot at while running away.
He said they were negotiating with the security forces hired by Lapanday when other men clad in the same uniform but without nameplates, and have their faces covered with bonnets, appeared from the ditch and fired at them.
But Lumactod denied that they are involved in the violent incidents.
“Hindi kami gumagalaw talaga. Hindi namin alam saan galing yung putukan (We are not moving, we do not know where the gunfires were coming from),” he added.
Lumactod said Lapanday has 156 security guards who operates in their area of responsibility.
He said their standing order for the security guards was to secure that no one would encroach their left premises.
Lumactod said they received intelligence information that their packing house will be attacked.
“I shared the intel information report to (Tagum City Chief of Police Superintendent Laudemer Laude) in a text message,” he said.
Rellon said he was challenged after they were criticized for alleged inaction of the incident.
The meeting recommended: 1) that the PNP to go inside the premises or respond to call or when situation warrants, 2) for the PNP to disarm, apprehend security personnel when circumstances allow, or if there are violations, 3) Promote PNP visibility to thwart or prevent untoward incident; 4) Maintain a status quo and no movement on the part of the Lapanday’s security group outside their posts and to call the PNP in case of a presence of threat; 5) Beef up intelligence gathering to determine the person responsible to the recent attack and shooting incident; 6) Allow the Department of Agrarian Reform to enter the premises with their surveyor to determine the area for the agrarian reform beneficiaries and 7) To hold a dialogue with the presence of members of Marbai in their area.
The Tagum City Police was criticized by the farmers for allegedly conniving with the security guards.
Balucos said the police mobile stationed near the entrance of the compound fled when the shooting began.
Balucos said he was carried on board a motorcycle but later rode a police rescue vehicle going to the hospital. He said policemen told him the gunfire was provoked because the farmers were also armed.
During the meeting, Laude said they did not enter the plantation premises because it is a “private property”.
But City Legal Officer Randy Degala said if there is a clear violation, the police should do their duty.
“If there are those wounded, you should investigate.Under this extraordinary times, whether they like it or not, the police should establish peace and order,” he said.
Laude said they have yet to receive the findings of the doctor on the wounds of the victims and to determine the kind of firearms used.
The meeting was held in the nearby Barangay Hall in Barangay San Isidro but the members of Marbai refused to attend the supposed dialogue for fear that Lapanday security forces will take over the land which they reclaimed.
Lapanday previously denied involvement on the incident and said the issue could have been triggered by the internal conflict between Marbai and the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative 1 (Hearbco1). (davaotoday.com)