2 dead, several hurt in clash on disputed land
SAN PEDRO CITY — The municipal government of San Juan in Batangas province on Tuesday urged families currently residing on roadsides and a private property to move to a government resettlement site, following a clash that left two dead and several others hurt.
The plea came after residents and at least 500 security guards, ferried on eight buses, clashed in the popular tourist town
in the village of Laiya Aplaya.
San Juan Mayor Rodolfo Manalo said officials did not anticipate Monday’s clash.
“They (security personnel) said they were sent there by Mr. Butch Campos to start the fencing of the private property. They did not have a permit for that,” Manalo said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Federico “Butch” Campos III, based on records from the Department of Agrarian Reform, is the owner of at least 8.9 hectares of land converted from agriculture to ecotourism, commercial or residential use.
The Inquirer tried to obtain Campos’ phone number but nobody in the area had it.
PO1 Richard King Valenzuela said police received a call around 8 a.m. on Monday about the “confrontation” between residents and personnel of JPS Security Agency at Balacbacan, a community in Laiya Aplaya.
The Inquirer tried contacting JPS Security Agency but numbers posted on their website were not working.
“They were throwing rocks and empty liquor bottles,” Valenzuela said, although he did not say which side started the clash.
He said police tried to pacify the people and convince their leaders to negotiate when another round of clash erupted.
“They proceeded to demolish the houses. The settlers caught up with the security guards and they were beaten up,” Valenzuela said.
The Batangas police director, Senior Supt. Edwin Quilates, identified the fatalities as Kennedy Ladia and a certain Estino, both employed by JPS.
Two more security guards, Nelson Ballega and Jerimias Garcia, were wounded.
Lino Baes, head of the local fishermen’s group Haligi ng Batangueñong Anakdagat, said seven residents were hurt, among them an adult male who remained in “critical” condition as of Tuesday.
It was not the first time residents and security guards hired by the landowner clashed.
In July last year, fishermen barricaded the road for two days to prevent the demolition of their houses. Three people were hurt by stray bullets after shots were fired.
Valenzuela said investigation was underway for police to file charges. He said authorities had secured footage of the clash.
Manalo said at least 50 families built houses on the roadside after they were evicted several years ago.
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