Lugait homeowners dismantle houses to avert more violence

LUGAIT, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/7 December)– Homeowners of a disputed property here agreed on Friday to voluntarily dismantle their houses to prevent more violence after a bloody demolition that resulted to the death of one of their neighbors and the wounding of four others, including two policemen.

Jovito Jabagat, president of the Alyansa ng mga Biktima sa Demolisyon sa Calangahan (ALBIDEC), said the homeowners came up with this difficult decision to prevent another bloodshed between them and the demolition team hired by the land owner, Achondoa Agro-Industrial Company (AAIC).

He said the homeowners will gather their possessions and pieces of their former houses on the 15-meter sides of the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Highway reserved for road expansion by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“This does not mean that we are giving up our claim. We will continue our struggle even if we have to live on the side of the highway,” Jabagat said.

The homeowners’ decision paved the way for Court Sheriff Norberto Labis to fence the 40-hectare land of AAIC.

Labis ordered the demolition Thursday to enforce a Supreme Court decision, but the demolition team, which includes policemen, was pelted with stones by angry homeowners.

Policemen fired teargas canisters at the protesters and in the ensuing violence, a homeowner, identified as Nixon Tungao, 35, died. His nine-month old son, Runel, inhaled teargas and was brought to a hospital.

Supt. Leonilo Cabug, Misamis Oriental police director, said four persons, including two police officers, were hurt in the ensuing melee.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano is forming a panel to investigate the bloody demolition in Barangay Calangahan last Thursday, said Edmundo Pacamalan, the provincial administrator.

Pacamalan said the panel will investigate allegations from the homeowners that the policemen involved in the demolition do not have nameplates, which is a violation of Philippine National Police regulations.


Policemen do not have nameplates when they provided security during the demolition in Lugait, Misamis Oriental that turned bloody last Thursday, Dec 5. The police officers again did not have their nameplates last Friday. PNP regulations say that policemen should always have their nameplates during rallies and demolitions. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

“We have to investigate who is responsible for the death of Tungao and bring the suspects to justice,” Pacamalan said.

MindaNews was able to photograph members of the police unit in Lugait who were not wearing their nameplates.

Adelaida Tungao, mother of dead victim Nixon Tungao, said they have filed a murder complaint against the policemen before the National Bureau of Investigation in Iligan City.

Cabug, the provincial police director, said he is willing to surrender all firearms of policemen involved in the demolition for ballistic test to determine who fired the fatal shot.

He said those police officers without nameplates during the demolition will face administrative charges. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)