Land dispute turns deadly Farmer killed, 5 others hurt

By Jennifer P. Rendon and Jomarie Billones

A DISPUTE over a farm land claimed the life of a farmer and injured five others, three of whom are women.

The incident happened 4:30 p.m. of Feb. 11, 2017 at Barangay Culilang, Pres. Roxas, Capiz.

Senior Inspector Rachelle Garnica, Pres. Roxas police chief, identified the fatality as Orlando Eslana, 48, of Barangay Dulangan, Pilar town.

Dulangan is a village adjacent to Culilang.

Wounded were Melinda Arroyo, Ana Bocala, and Adel Vergara, all residents of Dulangan village; and Nida Amo and Jesery Lachica, 47, of Culilang.

Except for Lachica, the rest of the victims are from the group of alleged CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership) beneficiaries.

Initial investigation revealed that the violent confrontation happened when the group of Barangay Captain Ferdinand Bacanto of Culilang removed the bamboo fence and wire installed by the group of Amo, Eslana and a certain Teresita Billoned.

The fence served as demarcation line put up by Amo’s camp to cordon the area they believe were covered by their CLOA.

Bacanto is the administrator of the 6.2-hectare hacienda owned by deceased Nemesio Tan.

A commotion ensued as Bacanto’s group removed the fence.

Eslana allegedly climbed the trailer tractor manned by Barangay Kagawad Leopoldo Lachica.

He allegedly attempted to hack Leopoldo but it was parried by his son, Jersey, who was wounded on his right arm and head.

A burst of gunfire was then heard.

Shortly later, the bloodied Eslana was seen lying on the trailer truck as well as two other women.

The victims were rushed to Bailan District Hospital in Pontevedra town but Eslana was declared dead on arrival.

The wounded victims were later transferred to Roxas City, except for Arroyo who was referred to a hospital in Iloilo City.

Senior Superintendent Samuel Nacion, Capiz police director, ordered Garnica to conduct a thorough investigation while the Capiz Provincial Public Safety Company was tasked to ensure peace and order in the area.

Saturday’s incident was an offshoot of the intentional arson that happened at the same land, particularly at the sugarcane plantation, 2 a.m. of Feb. 7.

On Feb. 6, Tan’s son requested for police assistance after several individuals entered the property.

The “trespassers” allegedly were armed with CLOA, a document evidencing ownership of the land granted or awarded to the beneficiary by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

While the fire was raging, unidentified persons allegedly strafed the concrete wall of Tan’s warehouse.

Bacanto has blamed DAR for the ongoing conflict. He said it should have been avoided if DAR properly executed the awarding of the CLOA to the beneficiaries.

“Tan is willing give the subject areas to the farmer-beneficiaries if there is just compensation,” Bacanto said.

Bacanto said the Regional Trial Court has issued an injunction against the distribution of the land.

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