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Memorial cross for Gata 4 to rise in Caramoan massacre site

CARAMOAN, CAMARINES SUR—Locals here gathered this morning to attend a mass and to witness the groundbreaking of a towering cross to commemorate the victims of the gruesome Caramoan massacre.

Camarines Sur 4th District Rep. Wimpy Fuentebella, former Rep. Noli Fuentebella, Caramoan Vice Mayor Irene Bries, Gata Punong Barangay Mercy Sueno, a representative of advocacy group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), and several members of the local and national media attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
(PHOTO BY OSCAR ESMENDA/BICOLSTANDARD.COM)
The cross will rise on the exact site where unarmed gold panners Julio Labiano, Rene Labiano, Salem Virtuz, and Jesse Brondia were brutally murdered. They panners, according to reports, were shot while they were eating their dinner allegedly by members of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan of the Province of Camarines Sur last March 22.

Present during the groundbreaking were Camarines Sur 4th District Rep. Wimpy Fuentebella, former Rep. Noli Fuentebella, Caramoan Vice Mayor Irene Bries, Gata Punong Barangay Mercy Sueno, a representative of advocacy group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), and several members of the local and national media.

Punong Barangay Sueno said in an interview with BICOL STANDARD that the families of the victims as well as the locals should not be disheartened as they seek justice. She revealed that she has been in contact with Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima over the developments.

Meanwhile, Rep. Fuentebella confirmed that a committee in the House of Representatives will conduct its own investigation on the alleged illegal activities of the members of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan.

Image of the memorial cross that will be constructed in the Caramoan massacre site.
(PHOTO BY OSCAR ESMENDA/BICOLSTANDARD.COM)
He said that he has now in his possession relevant information regarding the abuses purportedly committed by said Task Force.

Task Force Sagip Kalikasan had arrogated upon themselves the implementation of environmental laws, which resulted into abuses, the Congressman said.

In a related development, locals expressed optimism that they will recover from the hunger that they experienced during the past few months when the said Task Force was still present in the area.

“Kadto nagkakakarakan kaming tultol. Kan nag-arabot an mga tulisan, nagkagurutom kami. Mala ngani ta su mga aki ko, nangurutang na nin bagas. Nagrulugaw-lugaw na sana kami (Before, we used to eat well. When the bandits arrived, we went hungry. My children would borrow rice. We would just eat porridge),” said Amparo Pulito, an octogenarian who, from time to time, still helps in panning for gold.

She added, however, that she would never want the members of said Task Force to return to Gata.

“Ay inay, habo ko na dyan! Surmaryosep! Kampi ako sa Diyos, bako sa demonyo. (Oh, I would never want them back! I am on the side of God, and not of the devil),” she said, seething.

“Nil’og kami digdi nin tulisan, mga tulisan baga ito. Nanggaradan sinda bago sinda naghale digdi. (We were invaded by bandits. They were bandits. They killed before they left this place), she added. “Ngonian tuninong na kami. Habo mi na kaito. Sinikwal mi na,” (Now, this place is peaceful. We don’t want them here anymore. We have already rejected them).”

Meanwhile, Julian Colico, another local, said that the residents of Gata are now back to small-scale gold panning by the shoreline. However, they are still prohibited from engaging in small-scale mining.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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