Looking back at the heated confrontation between Congressman Lray Villafuerte and Congressman Rolando Andaya, I couldn’t help but think that Camarines Sur may be ground zero for hundreds if not thousands of cases of unreported human rights violations.
The thought occurred to me as I was re-reading a post I had written about how Rappler and Vera Files failed to fact check a viral video on Andaya’s confrontation with Villafuerte.
In a news report on GMANEWS.TV, Andaya claimed he was leading a protest of Pili residents (a number of whom were farmers) against Villafuerte who allegedly harassed them by dumping truckloads of soil in their area in the dead of night. The truckloads of soil were dumped on roads leading to residences and agricultural lands, effectively depriving the people there of free access to their homes and farms as well as denying them free travel.
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I’m no lawyer, but to my untrained eyes it would appear that this violated a number of sections in Article III or Bill of Rights (aka human rights) contained in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Villafuerte may have violated:
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
Section 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.
Section 9. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
If this is the case, why haven’t we heard even a peep from our militant human rights warriors? Were they sleeping alongside the truth censors of Rappler and Vera Files?
In anycase, a friend from Naga tells me that the Villafuertes are known in Camsur for the unusual way in which they acquire land and profit from its use or sale.
My friend and informant pointed out that Villafuerte’s alleged corrupt practices didn’t stop at the P2.7 Billion fund anomaly involving the Camsur Watersports Complex. My informant pointed out that Villafuerte was looking to profit from the sale of land for the Naga City Airport Expansion project.
My informant claims that the national government alloted around P400 million for the acquisition of 134 hectares land surrounding the Naga City Airport which would be used for the expansion project. Given the budget for the airport expansion project and the amount of land being acquired, he figures that those selling their land should be compensated by at least P300 pesos per square meter
He claims that Villafuerte and his agents were forcing residents and farmers to sell them their land at just P 8.00 per square meter!
If this is true, it would appear that Villafuerte stands to make around P390 million if he manages to acquire all the land for the airport expansion project for a song.
How does Villafuerte compel people to sell their land at such a low cost?
My informant tells me that the Villafuertes use the so-called Sagip Kalikasan Task Force to muscle their way into cheap land deals and other profitable enterprises.
And… apparently, if an article published in the inquirer on July 7, 2014 by a Barangay official from Gata, Caramoan, Camarines Sur is to be believed, they’re also Villafuerte’s hit squad. Part of the article reads:
As the barangay captain of Barangay Gata in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, allow me to set the record straight regarding Conrado Banal’s misleading July 3 column on the gruesome killing of four of my constituents last March 22.
The police have already charged the men tagged behind the cold-blooded murder. They have been identified as members of Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte’s Sagip Kalikasan task force.
Because of this incident, the National Police Commission has suspended Villafuerte’s supervisory control over the local police to ensure that the victims are given justice, without anyone interfering with the investigation to determine who ordered the killings. Napolcom’s action shows the national government’s loss of confidence in Villafuerte.
Considering the reputation of the Sagip Kalikasan Task Force based on this article, it would appear that Pili residents were justified in attacking them if they believed they were defending their human rights.