1 killed, 6 wounded in Zambo land dispute

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/03 May) – A person was killed while six others were wounded when violence erupted on Saturday between protesting residents and guards of a plywood firm in this city.

The incident broke out shortly after 11 a.m. amid tension in the past few days between residents of Purok 3 in Barangay Recodo and the Dacon plywood company.

The residents claimed the land being fenced by the plywood firm belongs to them, as it is part of a declared Muslim resettlement based on a presidential proclamation issued by then President Manuel Quezon in 1937.

The residents also cited that the fence would block the passageway to the mosque.

Officials of the plywood firm insisted they are fencing the property because they owned it.

Joselito Baginda, a worker of the plywood firm, alleged over the radio that Saturday’s incident broke out after a group of residents threw stones at them while they were working.

He claimed the residents hurled stones again even though they have not reacted to the first attack.

Baginda said that a grenade, allegedly tossed by one of the residents, later exploded and injured six of their companions. This after the workers reacted to the second stone attack.

Four of the six injured were security guards of the plywood firm, including the head guard identified as Enrico Menor. The two other wounded were workers.

The lone fatality, identified as Hamudi Hamja, was a resident of Purok 3, Barangay Recodo.

The residents claimed that the guards of the plywood firm shot Hamja.

Chief Insp. Felixberto Martinez, head of the city police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Management (CIDM), said they have yet to ascertain the culprits.

“That is part of our investigation,” Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge, said when asked who started Saturday’s violence.

Casimiro said they will deploy policemen along the road leading to the Dacon compound to prevent the escalation of violence in the area.

“We will maintain permanent presence in this road,” Casimiro said.

Col. Andrelino Colina, Task Force Zamboanga commander, said he will also deploy soldiers in the area to back the policemen in the maintenance of law and order.

Dacon Operations Manager Antonio Catolico said they will continue fencing the area and that the incident will not affect the operation of the firm.

Meanwhile, City Hall information officer Sheila Covarrubias had dispelled rumors of a terrorist attack in Barangay Recodo that circulated after the incident.

“The incident was triggered by a grenade-throwing incident that led to a firefight. The situation is now under control and joint police and military investigation is ongoing,” she said. (MindaNews)