8 village chiefs killed in Bukidnon since 2010

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 December) – Eight barangay (village) chairs have been killed in Bukidnon since last year, an official at the Department of the Interior and Local Government provincial office said, adding the government should do something about it.

Gracelyn B. Galvezo-Abregana, local government operations officer V of DILG-Bukidnon said the victims were slain either by suspected communist rebels, bandits or allegedly by their
political rivals.

She added that the list of victims, five of whom were killed this year, excludes those who were killed after their terms had ended.

The most recent victim was Arsenio Ferrera, 66, Barangay Mabuhay in Valencia City. He was shot by 10 armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army, police said.

Ferrera was gunned down on Nov. 19, barely a month after Laureano Silay, 61, of Barangay Bukang Liwayway, Kibawe was killed on October 27.

On September 13 this year, Frederick Jalaman, 52, of Barangay San Miguel, Maramag was killed in the town proper.

In July this year, two village chiefs were killed just three days apart of each other.

Dominorog, Talakag barangay chair Fernando Nool, 69, was slain on July 23 in an ambush on his way home from a training. Three days later, Raul Cagalawan, 47, of Barangay Linabo in Malaybalay City was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men.

Three of the killings were reported in 2010.

Renelie Gomez, 37, of Cosina, Talakag was killed by unidentified gun men on August 8 in front of his wife who begged for his life.

On Oct. 10 last year, Manuel Fajardo, 49, of Tumaras, Kibawe was killed. Two days after, Martin Villaflor, 34, of Ninoy Aquino, Kalilangan suffered the same fate.

Abregana said the alleged killers were communist rebels who accused the victims of abuses

“They (barangay chairs) are caught in between. They face a dilemma where to place themselves
being the top government official in the village,” she added.

But Abregana said that based on records former barangay chairs, village councilors, and even other barangay officials like treasurers were also being targeted.

She urged higher government officials to see what can be done to protect the village functionaries.

Roelito Gawilan, president of the Federation of the Associations of Barangay Councils in Bukidnon vowed to go deeper into the killings.

He said they will see what kind of protection could be given even if he is pushing for the deployment of the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA) in the villages.

Gawilan said some of the killings had personal motives, although he noted that village officials are vulnerable to attacks by the nature of their job.

“They are also not adept at conflict management skills,” he added. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)