CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 19 April) – Presidential aspirant Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman and two of his senatorial bets in the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) escaped death when gunmen fired at them while they were with Lumad farmers in the municipality of Quezon in Bukidnon Tuesday morning, but five people were wounded in the incident.
De Guzman and senatorial aspirants Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo were shaken but otherwise escaped unscathed after a group of 50 armed men fired volley shots at them and 500 Manobo-Pulangihon farmers who attempted to take over the 900 hectares of land reportedly managed by a politician in Sitio Kiantig, Barangay San Jose in Quezon.
One of his aides identified as Nanie Abella was wounded when a bullet hit him on his chest. Abella was rushed to a hospital in Maramag town in Bukidnon.
The incident was recorded and broadcast live on Facebook by D’Angelo. It was later uploaded on PLM sites.
De Guzman said Army soldiers and policemen who were stationed only 100 meters away witnessed the entire incident, which occurred at 11:30 am.
“Syempre, natakot ako. Bigla na lang natumba yong nasa katabi ko (Of course, I got scared. The one beside me suddenly fell [after he got shot],” De Guzman said.
PLM Mindanao coordinator Roldan Gonzales said he immediately dragged De Guzman to the ground as soon as he saw Abella fell.
“Ka Leody was tall and I was afraid the gunmen will turn their attention at him,” Gonzales said.
De Guzman said the gunfire continued for 10 minutes as he and the Lumad farmers lay on the ground for cover.
He said after the volley of gunfire subsided, he and the rest of his party and Lumad farmers stood and got out of the contested land.
Aside from Abella, Gonzales identified those who were wounded as Bae Charita Delsocorro, Datu Didlusan Arroyo, Orlando Lingaolingao and Eger Dabatian.
“Hindi pala uso ang negosasyon dito. Putukan kaagad pala,” De Guzman said.
The presidential aspirant said he went to Sitio Kiantig to help the Lumad farmers negotiate for their piece of land they claimed from the Kiantig Pineapple Company.
He said they were talking with the Lumad leaders who were setting up a tent when gunfire rang out.
“I saw a man armed with a shotgun came forward to us. I thought he wants to negotiate,” Gonzales narrated.
Gonzales said the gunman instead fired his shotgun, hitting Abella, who was beside De Guzman.
The land in Sitio Kiantig is contested by the Manobo-Pulangihan and Kiantig Development Corporation who owns the Kiantig Pineapple Company.
The Lumads claimed that their families were forced out of their community near the banks of the Pulangi River from the contested land. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)