Bukidnon bishop condemns violence in Talakag

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/6 December)– Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan has condemned the slaying of three persons and the hurting of a five-year old boy in Talakag town on December 1, calling it “senseless and clear violations of the dignity of the person and the persons in community.”

In a statement on Thursday, Cabantan said the coldblooded killing of defenseless and unarmed people was meant “to sow fear to provoke disunity and chaos among people living in peace.”

“They meant to inflict not only fatal wounds but also psychological trauma to annihilate the slightest resistance against them,” the bishop said.

On December 1, around 30 armed men stormed Sitio San Abel, Barangay Miarayon in Talakag town and shot the victims, the statement said.

Local media reports said that the perpetrators hogtied nine men and gathered the women, children and elderly at the plaza.

“In front of people, two men were shot dead, and fatally wounding a pregnant woman. A boy aged five years old sustained a wound from a stray bullet,” the statement said.

After the shooting, about 36 families fled to Miayaron proper, where 12 of the evacuees sought refuge at the parish convent.

The bishop said that children were traumatized, adults are worried, and many got sick and needed debriefing.

In behalf of the Diocese of Malaybalay, Cabantan appealed to the perpetrators of the killings to “submit themselves towards the way to peace. The key to peace is peace itself.”

He also called on the local government leaders and law enforcers to pay attention to the victims, “whose freedom had been cut-off by living in fear.”

“We appeal to all to help restore peace and order in their communities,” Cabantan added.

Quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the bishop cited that “peace involves complete commitment. Peace is with God, with oneself, with neighbors and all creation.”

“True peacemakers are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions: personal, communitarian and transcendent. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life,” the bishop said.

Cabantan said “those who opt for violence will always harvest violence.”

“Radical commitment to peace does not mean inaction but it entails a total commitment to genuine human values,” he added.

Captain Christian Uy, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the three dead victims as Eddie Gawahan, Jonel Yanda and Germinia Yanda.

Uy reportedly said the attack was staged to instill fear among the residents.

The military alleged it was carried out by the communist New People’s Army, but could not identify the NPA commander who led the attack. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)