MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte, “appalled” by the series of killings in Negros Oriental, has sought to bring perpetrators to justice, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
This developed after Duterte convened a meeting with several local officials at the Silliman University Gymnasium in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental on Monday.
“Nagparating po ng mensahe ang ating Presidente that he is appalled doon sa mga patayan na nangyayari sa Negros Oriental (The President delivered a message that he is appalled by the killings in Negros Oriental),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser.
Duterte, Roque said, vowed to be “completely neutral” but expressed hope that culprits will be punish to the full extent of the law.
“He (Duterte) will be completely neutral pero gagampanan ng estado ang kaniyang obligasyon na imbestigahan, litisin, at parusahan ang mga taong pumapatay sa Negros Oriental (but the state will fulfill his obligation to investigate and punish killers in Negros Oriental),” Roque said.
On May 14, suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) reportedly killed four civilians in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
The victims were identified as Ronelo Quirante, 56; Roger Fat, 46; and Rodrigo Lubay, 46, and his wife Sherryl, 44. They were suspected to be military informants responsible for the March 23 encounter between the 62nd Infantry Battalion and rebels.
Stephen Bandoquillo Alam, chairperson of Bagacay village in Vallehermoso town in Negros Oriental, was also shot by four allegedly guns-for-hire inside the village hall on May 5. The suspects in Alam’s slay were arrested.
On May 4, Briccio Nuevo Jr., a lay minister in Negros Oriental, was also shot dead in Poblacion village in Guihulngan City while he was at a vulcanizing shop, according to a police report.
Conflicting claims to idle lands
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been directed to resolve the conflicting claims to idle lands to address the spate of killings in Negros Oriental, Roque said.
“Inatasan po ng Presidente ang DENR na resolbahin ang mga conflicting claims to untitled lands na pinagmumulan ng mga patayan. Ang sabi po ni Presidente (The President has ordered the DENR to resolve conflicting claims to untiled lands that have led to the killings. The President said), everything else being equal, resolve this dispute in favor of the poor,” he said.
The Department of Agrarian Reform has also been tasked to ensure the speedy distribution of lands to farmer-beneficiaries, Roque said.
Talk to the People
Duterte did not hold his regular public address on Monday because of his scheduled visit to Negros Oriental, Roque said.
Roque said Duterte’s “Talk to the People” was supposed to be held on Tuesday but was moved to Wednesday.
“It was initially scheduled for tonight pero mamu-move po siya tomorrow (but it will be moved tomorrow),” he said. (PNA)