NEWS RELEASE: The armed men formed a line, pointed their guns at us and fired

Thursday 5 August 2010 by LRAN

MARAMAG, Bukidnon— " The armed men formed a line, pointed their guns at us and fired," This was how Erlinda Bacandon described how around ten gunmen fired at a group of farmers who occupied a ranch owned by a prominent supporter of President Benigno Aquino Jr., in Maramag town, Bukinon this morning.

4 August 2010

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Two of the farmers were hurt and have to be rushed to a hospital in Maramag but Bacandon said many more farmers sustained bruises as they tried to run away from the withering fire from the armed men. Bacandon said the gunmen were armed with M16 and M14 rifles, shotguns and pistols.

The farmers were able to take dramatic pictures of the gunmen as they fired at the farmers who lay flat on the ground.

"They just fired and fired their guns. Many of us tripped over the wired fences. We were terrified," Bacandon narrated.

Mansueto Jocaris, a farmer, sustained a shotgun pellet wound on his arm and was rushed a nearby hospital in Maramag town.

Also rushed to the hospital was Fe Panelo whose face was nearly crushed when one of the gunmen kick her as she lay on the ground to cover. Bacandon, who heads the Nakagawa Dulugon Farmers Association, said they have taken shelter at a covered court beside the barangay hall in Dulugon, Maramag. “We are scared to go back. We have to look who among us are injured,” Bacandon said in a phone interview.

Bacandon said around 100 members of the Nakagawa Dulugon Farmers Association occupied the 200-hectare ranch owned by the late Roberto Montalvan, one of the pioneers in Bukidnon province. The ranch is now managed by Montalvan’s wife, Rosario, a known supporter of President Benigno Aquino III. Bacandon said the ranch was operated by Montalvan for the last 25 years under an Agro-Farm Lease Agreement but she said this had already expired.

She said hours after they occupied the ranch this morning. The gunmen arrived on a truck. Bacandon said the leader of the armed men came and told them to leave. When they refused, Bacandon said the gunmen fired.

Lt. Col. Triumph Dominic Bagaipo, spokesperson of the Army Fourth Infantry Division said the Army will conduct an investigation after the farmers noted that the unidentified leader of the gunmen was wearing a white tshirt of the 4ID Division Training Unit which was based in Camp Bahian, Malaybalay City. (Maribel Dano TFM Information)

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