By Jazmin Bonifacio
MATUGINAO, Samar, June 17 (PNA) – The local government here asked the national government to assist them in restoring peace and order following the series of extrajudicial killings.
“A lot of people here lost their loved ones in unjust ways, but they fought this struggle peacefully. They never resorted to violence. We are calling for you to come and see the harsh conditions we are forced to live through daily as a result of these killings. Please help us live in peace,” town Mayor Melissa Dela Cruz appealed.
The town’s peace and order council asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, National Bureau of Investigation and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to immediately intervene in the local peace and order concerns.
Records from the local police office showed that on March 21, this year, two men were killed in Bag-otan village.
Within a week, another shooting incident occurred in Mahanud village where a two-year old girl was hit by members of the New People’s Army chasing a militiaman.
On May 1, another victim was shot to death by an unidentified gunman. After two days, Nagpapacao village chief was killed by unidentified armed men.
Initial findings of the police revealed that the killings were politically motivated and some are caused by personal grudge.
Dela Cruz said that such incidents tainted the development of their town.
For a long a time, the town was at a very disadvantaged situation due to its geographic isolation, according to her.
The lack of road network and poor road conditions to villages contributed to high transportation cost, resulting to higher food prices in the markets.
Farm gate price, however, remains low, which means that farmers are earning less than what they need.
The mayor is optimistic that the recent opening of a road that connects the town to the national highway will help improve the delivery of basic services.
However, with the series of killings, Dela Cruz believed that service providers will be hesitant to come to their town.
Matuguinao town is composed of 20 villages and only two areas are within the town center.
“The people here deserve a peaceful life better than fear-engulfed communities. Extrajudicial killings must stop now. Impunity must end now.” Dela Cruz added. (PNA)