DAVAO CITY, Philippines – North Cotabato 2nd District Governor Nancy Catamco was absolved in an Ombudsman ruling for lack of evidence on the case filed by Lumad leaders evacuating in a church compound here after the July 23 incident last year.
The order of dismissal was released by the Ombudsman on Oct. 26 due to lack of or insufficiency of evidence.
In an interview with Davao Today, Catamco said, “I take pride that I was given the opportunity to join in the collective efforts to save and negotiate for the release of Lumad evacuees in Haran.”
“Truth has always been my only source of strength, and truth shines the brightest in the darkest of our time,” Catamco said.
Catamco said that she considers the Ombudsman’s decision as a “revealing victory.”
“I stand ready to move onward, and stand up for what is right no matter who is committing the wrong. I greatly appreciate that justice has prevailed,” she said.
“My deep thanks to all who have helped me in many ways or the other,” she said.
On July 23, 2015, policemen entered the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound to “rescue” the Lumad for them to return to their respective communities.
A week after, Lumad leaders, together with support groups from the said church filed case against Catamco, et. al. pertaining to violations of seven provisions of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines including Usurpation of Authority or Official Function, Physical Injuries Inflicted in a Tumultuous Affray, Serious Physical Injuries, Qualified Trespass to Dwelling, Grave Threats, Grave Coercion, Malicious Mischief.
But the news did not sit well for Datu Kaylo Bontulan, deputy secretary of Pasaka Lumad confederation in southern Mindanao.
“We could see in the videos, in the media, that we were attacked,” Bontulan said.
The Lumad leader also said that a night before the fiasco in Haran, Catamco visited them trying to convince them to go back to their community.
“During her first visit here, she told us that we stink,” he said.
If Catamco was tried in a Lumad’s court, Bontulan said she will face a big problem.
Bontulan was among more than 200 Lumad evacuees from Kapalong, Davao del Norte who were still staying in the church compound for they could not still return to their community because of security issue. (davaotoday.com)