Police seize 8 firearms from security guards implicated in shooting of presidential bet, companions

Ka Leody de Guzman and colleagues after two of the wounded were treated at a hospital in Bukidnon. Photo courtesy of PLM-Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 21 April) – Police on Wednesday seized eight firearms from the security guards of an agricultural firm who were allegedly involved in the shooting Tuesday of presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman and Lumad farmers in Quezon town, Bukidnon.

Philippine National Police (PNP) 10 regional spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar said a team from their Regional Civil Security Unit which inspected the Kiantig Development Corporation found out that five of its security guards were not licensed and not wearing proper uniforms.

Olaivar said the guards also failed to show any certificate of authority from the Commission on Elections exempting them from the gun ban for the 2022 election period, which began on January 9.

She said the police team confiscated  two pistols, one revolver and five shotguns from Addis Security and Control Risks Inc. whose main office is located in Lauan Street, Nova Tiera Village, Lanang, Davao City.

“The inspection was administrative in nature. The five guards were not arrested because the firearms were not confiscated outside their post, which could violate the Comelec gun ban. We confiscated the firearms because they did not bear any documents,” she said.

The firearms were sent to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Alagar in Cagayan de Oro to check if these were recently fired.

Olaivar said they are looking for more firearms since a team from the PNP 10 Scene of the Crime Operatives found empty 5.56 caliber shells (presumably from an M16 rifle) at the crime scene in Sitio Kiantig, Barangay San Jose in Quezon town.

De Guzman said a group of 50 armed men believed to be security guards fired volley shots at his party and 500 Manobo-Pulangiyon farmers who attempted to take over 900 hectares of land of Kiantig Development Corporation in Sitio Kiantig.

Five people including two of De Guzman’s aides were hurt in the shooting. De Guzman and two senatorial hopefuls, Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo, survived unscathed.

De Guzman’s  companion Nanie Abela, one of those injured, said the guards did not fire warning shots.

“They aimed their shots at us,” Abela said.

De Guzman said the shooting happened while Army soldiers and policemen were standing 100 meters away but did not respond.

Olaivar said the police cannot file a criminal case against the suspects because no one from De Guzman’s party and the Lumad farmers have come forward to file complaints.

In an interview on OnePH on April 20, Brigadier General Benjamin Acorda, PNP 10 regional director urged the victims and witnesses to cooperate in the investigation and trust the police.

“I want the investigation of this case to be solid so that it won’t just be dismissed. We assure the witnesses and victims that the police would remain neutral,” Acorda said.

The police official said Kiantig Development Corporation is managed by a certain Marco Lorenzo not Quezon town Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III as earlier reported.

Pablo Lorenzo III in his interview with Brigada News FM admitted he used to work with the company but was relieved because of his work as the chief executive of Quezon town.

The mayor said he met with the Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the Lumad farmers and the police on April 18, the day before the incident.

Bishop Noel Pedregosa of the Malaybalay Diocese condemned the incident and urges all stakeholders to engage in dialogue “for the sake of peace and of the integral and sustainable development of the Lumad”.

“The Lumad have the rights to their ancestral domains which for many years have been deprived from them,” Pedregosa said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)