CHR to investigate San Fernando demolition shooting

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Friday, July 25, 2014

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Commission on Human Rights Region (CHR) Central Luzon office here said on Thursday that it will conduct an investigation on the shooting incident that happened on a 130-hectare demolition site at Barangay Maimpi, this city, recently.

Lawyer Jasmine Regino, CHR regional director, said that believes that the demolition team violated the rights of the farmers' group when it shot one of their members last week.

Superintendent Edilberto Pitallano, city chief of police, identified the wounded as Guillermo Padua, 32, a resident of Agoncillo Street, Barangay Maimpis.


Pitallano said that a demolition team hired by lawyer Eligio Mallari, petitioner, was executing the writ of demolition under an LRC case issued by Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the City of San Fernando Regional Trial Court branch 42.

The Department of Agrarian Reform-approved site is now being claimed by Mallari, a former CHR chairperson during the Arroyo administration, who assumes that the land is already non-agricultural.

Regino said that the commission is now taking efforts to get the statements of the victims and the witnesses of the incident.

"As soon as the news reached me, I immediately called the San Fernando police and they told me that they are the first responders. As of date, however, they are still conducting investigation on the matter because they still cannot uncover the identity of the suspects who shot Guillermo Padua," said Regino, adding that the shooting incident is already an indication of a human rights violation.

The relatives of the victim, said Regino, still have not consulted them with regard to the shooting incident.

Additionally, Regino relayed that the CHR is always ready to provide assistance should the farmers decide to pursue a case against the demolition team.

"If the victim wants to push through with the case, we will be helping them to file charges as long as the suspect’s identity has been established and if they already have a lawyer to defend them," said Regino as she assured that the CHR is always open to all victims of human rights violations.

Meanwhile, Regino said that they have been monitoring the demolition site ever since it started to operate last week. Aside from the shooting incident, however, the CHR finds no other cases of human rights violations committed by the demolition team.

"We are looking whether the demolition conditions are humane especially during rainy season when you are not allowed to demolish," said Regino.

Regino added that the demolition team should have supposedly provided notification and pre-demolition conference to inform the farmers about the commencement of the demolition operations.

Regino clarified that the decision-making process on the land dispute is not anymore within the powers of the commission.

"We are not in the position to decide who the rightful owner should be but how the parties should behave while negotiating through the land dispute," held Regino.

Last weekend, in the midst of the negotiations between the farmers and the operators, two unidentified members of the demolition team shot Padua, said a witness.

"When we were about to talk to them about the demolition activities, they went down their vehicles and two of them pointed their guns at us," said farmer-leader Jomer Santiago.

According to another witness, the demolition team immediately escaped after the incident on board a white truck, an orange van, and three jeepneys with plate numbers DXW 525, DXW 303, and DCC 459. (Ferth Vandensteen Manaysay)

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 26, 2014.

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