CHR, LGU probe Wao killings as hundreds flee homes

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 29 Apr) – More than a thousand persons fled their homes in Barangay Park Area in Wao, Lanao del Sur following the reported killings of six people (not seven as earlier reported), prompting investigation from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and a crisis management committee created by the local government unit.

The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) estimated there are now 1,115 internally displaced persons because of the killings. They reportedly flocked to an area in the town proper called BLISS-Western.

Lominog Poloyagan, Wao’s municipal environment and natural resources officer who is a member of the town’s Maranao community, said the evacuees are a mix of Moro and settler folks from the upland areas.

Wao’s population is composed of 83 percent settlers and 17 percent Moro.

Poloyagan added that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) deployed a humanitarian team and distributed relief goods to evacuees.

He cited that some people have been spreading text messages with alarming messages such as the alleged occurrence of fighting in the upland areas causing the evacuations.

Desiree Macamay, Wao public information officer, said the CHR in the ARMM is investigating the killings.

Macamay said via telephone that a four-member team from CHR-ARMM met with Mayor Elvino Balicao Jr. and other local officials on Tuesday. The CHR group reportedly proceeded to Barangay Park Area, site of the killings.

Macamay stressed that local police can only account for a total of four dead in the Sitio Magampong massacre early morning on April 25, the fourth being a victim who failed to reach the Kalilangan (Bukidnon) Emergency Hospital alive.

Nine others were injured in the massacre.

On April 24, bodies of two minors were found dead in Sitio Camp 2, also in Barangay Park Area. One of the bodies was that of a 15-year-old girl, believed to have been raped. The other, that of a 13-year-old boy who was tending a carabao, was reportedly hacked.

Balicao has not taken call attempts from MindaNews lately, but Macamay said the mayor created a 12-member crisis management committee to help police investigate and control the situation to prevent the escalation of violence. The group, referred to by other sources as a fact-finding committee, met to start functioning on Tuesday.

Macamay said among the members of the team include the Wao police chief and Fr. Floredelito “Yrap” Nazareno, parish priest of the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Wao. Poloyagan said three elder members of the town’s Maranao community – namely, Ret. Col. Lomala Amer, Ustadz Wahid Macabantog, and former OIC vice mayor Solaiman Domato – were included in the team.

But Macamay said that Balicao clarified there is still no evidence connecting the slaying of two minors on April 24 in Camp 2 and the massacre that killed four and wounded nine others on April 25 in Sitio Magampong.

She said the mayor cited that it is what the local fact-finding team wants to find out in its investigation.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr., who came to Wao Monday to address a meeting of local leaders, supported the municipal government’s for a deep investigation and called on the public not to rush at divisive judgment on the incidents.

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