DAVAO CITY – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is looking at the alleged involvement of local police officers in the broad daylight murder of nine farmers in Kabacan, North Cotabato on
This developed as CHR-12 Director Atty. Erlan Deluvio also docketed the incident as extra-judicial killing based on their initial findings.
Deluvio, however, emphasized that the involvement of the police officers in the incident was still a “working theory”, and still subject to validation.
“Docketing the case as EJK does not mean that we have a finding or a conclusion. It simply means we are docketing the case to jumpstart the formal investigation process,” he explained over the phone.
The CHR official added that they were also looking at the other information they received based on the statement of one of the victims, who was still able to talk before expiring in the hospital.
“It’s a prima facie. But we still have to verify the validity this information. This not yet a conclusion,” he said over the phone
Moreover, he said that the investigation will not only focus on the direct participation of the police, but as well as on the inaction of some police officers
Based on these initial findings, Deluvio pointed out that it’s now up to the police to disprove the claims.
He added that the some CHR personnel were now on the ground validating the initial findings, as well as reaching out to the families of the victims.
On August 29, nine farmers were killed in what appeared to have been an execution, contrary to initial reports that it was a shootout between feuding clans, or locally known as rido.
Police said the victims were onboard motorcycles when still unidentified gunmen stopped them, and gunned them down around 12noon. Eight of the victims were killed on the spot, while the other one expired few hours later at a local hospital.
The killings reportedly sparked outraged among Muslim communities calling it as a massacre. Several groups and Muslim leaders have condemned the incident and joined the calls for impartial investigation on the incident.
Police identified the victims as Nasurdin Kalilangan, 41, of Barangay Aringay in Kabacan; Sandigan Zailon, 46, of Barangay Osias, Kabacan; Benladin Dimanalao, 19, of Barangay Pedtad, Kabacan; Zaiden Musaed, 21, of Barangay Basagen, Aleosan; Romeo Balatamay Pioto, 38, of Barangay Aringay, Kabacan; Esmael Pagayon, 17, of Barangay Buluan, Kabacan; Datu Fahad Dimanalao Mandigan, 24, of Sitio Abpa, Kayaga, Kabacan; Budsal Lipusan, of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao; and Nasher Guiaman, 16 or 17 years old, of Barangay Buluan.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Dimanalao, older brother of Benladin, told The Manila Bulletin that his brother, and relatives Datu Fahad Dimanalao Mandigan and Zaiden Musaed were innocent as they were on their way home coming after attending a kanduli (thanksgiving) in Barangay Pedtad.
Abdullah said his brother has been living in the same barangay with his friend Musaed in Pagangan for few years already.
He admitted that their father was a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighter for about 30 years until he was decommissioned last year.
“Masakit para sa amin dahil akala namin wala ng mga pangayaring ganito dahil mapayapa na. Umaasa kami na mabigyan sya ng hustisya,” the elder Dimanalao lamented
Pedtad Barangay Kagawad Alinor Mamulid said over the phone that Dimanalao and his companions even brought with them the goat’s head that they butchered for the kanduli.
Mamulid said the three vicitms were among those who prepared the food for the kanduli.
“Dumating sila dito magkasama noong August 28 rin at sila pa nag prepare ng pagkain para sa kanduli. Pagkatapos ng kanduli ng umaga ng August 29, umuwi rin sila mga bandang alas onse” he recalled.
This developed as Board Member Mohammad Kellie Antao appealed to the public to stop spreading rumors as it will only create fear and polarize the Muslims and Christians especially in Kabacan town.
Antao particulary dispelled speculations that the family of those killed may seek vengeance for the killing of their kin.
“It will only create fear and hatred. This is not a conflict between Christians and Muslims, tapos na tayo dyan. Masyadong matagal na tapos na tayo dyan,” emphasized Antao, who also serves as the “caretaker” of the 63 barangays in North Cotabato that joined the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) after a plebiscite in 2019.
He appealed to the public to wait for the outcome of the investigation before making conclusions.
Kabacan Mayor Herlo Guzman also said that there was no shootout that took place as the victims, who were driving from the interior village and on their way to the town proper, were reportedly stopped by the suspects.
The broad daylight killing took place along the road, which connects the town proper to the interior villages, inside the government-run University of Southern Mindanao (USM) campus.
Guzman also appealed to his constituents to stop spreading unverified information as it will only put a wedge harmonious relationship of all tribes in the locality.