Witness in Alston probe shot dead in Misamis Oriental

Published by rudy Date posted on March 12, 2007

DAVAO CITY — A member of the Bayan Muna (People First) party-list who testified during the recent investigation by United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston was shot dead in front of her family in Misamis Oriental Saturday afternoon.

The victim, Siche Bustamante-Gandinao, 56, was also a member of the farmers’ group Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (MOFA) in Salay town.

During Alston’s visit to Mindanao, Gandinao appeared before him as a witness to the killing in February of her father-in-law, Dalmacio “Tatay Daki” Gadinao, then the provincial Bayan Muna chairman.

Like her father-in-law, Siche was actively involved in the campaign against militarization in their village because of alleged human rights abuses committed by soldiers against residents suspected of being rebels or rebel supporters.

The Saturday attack happened a few meters away from a military detachment in Sitio (sub-village) Nabuolan, Barangay (village) Guinalaban.

Gandinao was the third victim of political execution in Mindanao this year. She is also the 837th victim of extrajudicial killings since 2001, the year President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office, according to the count by the human rights group Karapatan.

Renato Pacaide, regional coordinator for the party-list Anakpawis in Davao del Sur, was also killed in Digos City two weeks ago.

A fact sheet prepared by lawyer Beverly Musni, chair of Karapatan-Northern Mindanao, said the victim was shot while she and her husband and children were walking home from their farm by a gunman onboard a motorcycle.

The human rights group said Elda, the victim’s daughter, saw the assailant tailing them after they passed the detachment.

The gunman, Karapatan said, overtook the victim and suddenly turned back and shot Gandinao hitting her in the chest before fleeing the crime scene in the direction of the detachment.

“Anselmito picked up the bloodied Siche while Elda continued shouting for help,” Karapatan said. “Many residents nearby heard her cries for help, including the barangay captain and barangay kagawad [councilors] of Barangay Guinalaban. Nobody responded. All that the barangay captain did was to call for a patrol car but said it could not be dispatched as this had been sent elsewhere.”

Another motorcycle approached but when Elda called for help, it drove by and went straight to the detachment.

Elda informed Karapatan that the same motorcycle returned with a red motorcycle. Riding on the second motorcycle was the man identified as the gunman, Karapatan said.

Shot four time, Gandinao died in Balingasag Hospital in Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental.

Musni, in her report, said that it had been the usual practice of the victim and her family to go to their farm in Nabuolan on weekdays.

At the time of her death, the victim was sickly, Karapatan said.–Jeffrey M. Tupas,Inquirer

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