COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Sep) – Policemen were involved in the Aug. 29 noontime massacre of nine Moro farmers in Kabacan, North Cotabato based on a “dying declaration” of one of the victims, according to the regional director of the Commission of Human Rights in Region 12 (CHR-12).
Regional Director Erlan Deluvio said relatives of the ninth victim, identified as Nasher Guiaman, told CHR-12 investigators before he died in the hospital that policemen stopped and shot them.
“This dying declaration of the victim who managed to speak to his relatives before he died alleging policemen were behind [the killings] will be very important to the case,” Deluvio pointed out.
He said he doesn’t have the details yet, but nevertheless confirmed that CHR-12 will be docketing the massacre of nine Moro farmers as “extrajudicial killings” (EJK).
“When we say EJK, usually it involves law enforcement agents but it doesn’t end there. It could be the inaction, if they did nothing to the investigation or it is ineffective,” according to Deluvio.
The human rights lawyer said this will happen when reports made have discrepancies, especially during the stage of gathering affidavits.
Deluvio said they have deployed and arranged more interviews for gathering witnesses’ statements to support the filing of charges against the police.
“For now we will corroborate the utterances made by several witnesses and formalize their statement,” he added.
When asked for comment, North Cotabato Provincial Police Director Henry Villar said: “It’s up to them.”
He said that for now, they have not established yet the motive of the killing.
“We don’t want to speculate, we are looking on several angles and we are making our best to give accurate result of our investigation,” Villar said over the phone.
Major Peter Pinalgan Jr., Kabacan town police chief, said the victims were strafed while standing by the roadside along Aringay Road inside the state-run University of Southern Mindanao campus.
“They were allegedly ordered to stop by unidentified suspects and when they all alighted from their respective motorcycles they were shot several times,” Pinalgan said.
He said the suspects used high powered firearms like M-16 Armalite rifle, Carbine rifle and caliber .45 pistol based on the empty shells found in the crime scene.
The victims were identified as Nasurdin Kalilangan, 41, of Barangay Aringay in Kabacan; Sandigan Zailon, 46, of Barangay Osias, Kabacan; Benladin Dimanalao, 19, of Barangay Pedtad, Kabacan; Zaiden Musaed, 21, of Barangay Basagen, Aleosan; Romeo Balatamay Pioto, 38, of Barangay Aringay, Kabacan; Esmael Pagayon, 17, of Barangay Buluan, Kabacan; Datu Fahad Dimanalao Mandigan, 24, of Sitio Abpa, Kayaga, Kabacan; Budsal Lipusan, of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao; and Nasher Guiaman, 16 or 17 years old, of Barangay Buluan.
The local government of Kabacan and provincial government of Cotabato expressed their condemnation to the gruesome killing along a busy provincial road inside the USM campus in broad daylight.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has likewise announced it will conduct a probe on the killings even if it is outside its jurisdiction, noting that “all of the victims were identified as Bangsamoros.”
Jabib Guiabar, BARMM caretaker for the seven barangays of Kabacan that are part of the autonomous government, said there will be an interreligious rally on Saturday to condemn the massacre. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)
NOTE: Names updated as of 10:13 p.m., Sept. 1.