|Wednesday, 15 March 2000
Murders at Haciena
was rough going. The jeepney that was taking us to Hacienda Looc, in Nasugbu, Batangas,
was crawling at no faster than 5 kph, but, inside, our bodies swayed this way and that, or
knocked each other as we negotiated each hump, each pothole, each boulder along the way.
With each lurch and bump, a cloud of dust billowed, and we could barely keep ourselves
...Suddenly, it dawned on me: When Hacienda Looc is good, its
beautiful beyond words; when its bad, it can be violently nasty. Not Looc itself,
really, but some dark forces drawn perhaps to its beauty, but certainly to its potential
as a moneymaker.
...By 6 p.m., hardly anyone dares to go outdoors, unless extremely necessary. The self-imposed curfew has actually been observed by most people since late last year, although the fear that motivated it was not as intense as it is now.
...On March 10, a day after Sevilla and Alla were buried, members of a
fact-finding mission team went to Hacienda Looc on the invitation of the Kilusang
Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) to investigate the mystery surrounding the twin killings.
Gunshots in the night
...Residents of Hacienda Looc, 82 kilometers southwest of Manila, woke up on March 4 to the news that two men had been killed by unidentified gunmen the night before. For people who went about their lives as quietly as possible, the report was truly chilling. But, in a way, it no longer surprised them.
...After all, they werent the first violent deaths in the
hacienda. Three other killings had happened there since 1996, when the place first grabbed
the headlines for a controversial land reform case involving the Department of Agrarian
...To farm folk who look to Hacienda Looc as the realization of their dreams, the deaths of Sevilla and Alla constitute another tragic chapter in their violence-plagued strugglea struggle for land that had become legally theirs, a struggle for life itself.
Their only fault
...Sevilla and Alla were known to be peaceful men whose only faultif it be a faultwas their active involvement in UMALPAS-KA, an alliance of Hacienda Looc farmers opposed to the conversion of the place as site for Harbour Town, featuring four golf courses, and a marina by real estate developers Fil-Estate and Manila Southcoast.
...Sevilla was married with a one-year old son, while Alla was single
and breadwinner for his family. Like most everybody else in the hacienda, both had farmed
and fished for their livelihood. They were very good friends, their folks said.
Riddled with bullets
...They were already dead when found the next day. Their bodies were
riddled with bullets from five different kinds of firearmsa shotgun, a .45-caliber
pistol, a 9-mm pistol, M14 and M16 rifles. Their bodies also bore many wounds on the knees
and face, indicating, according to KMP chair Rafael Mariano, that they were "tortured
and dragged about before they were finished off." Sevilla's brains, genitals, bowels
and eyes were blown up. The mouths of both men had been stuffed with soil.
...Details of the attack were skimpy, and until now, members of UMALPAS-KA do not know how the witness managed to escape unharmed.
...The killings took place a day after members of the alliance picketed the Manila office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for its lifting of the cease-and-desist order on Fil-Estate and Manila Southcoast, a move that would now allow the realty firms to start bulldozing a private road in Barangay Looc.
...The fact-finding team decided to make a call on the captain of
barangay Looc, the community where the killings took place, and where the hacienda is
situated. He was out, and his wife, who was alone in the house, said she did not expect
him back until seven in the evening. The team members thought it might be risky to stay on
and wait for him till dark. As it was still broad daylight, they decided to proceed to the
scene of the crime and interview the families living near it. .
...Limita added, however, that at10 p.m. or thereabouts he heard
someone knock on his door at least four times but he just ignored it--as he had in the
past, and would most likely do in the future. "We lock our homes here at six,"
They all knew nothing
...When the four groups were alone and exchanged notes on their
respective interviews, the common finding they had was: Nobody knew what happened on the
night of March 3. If anyone knew anything at all, he or she had certainly chosen to keep
...By six p.m., we all boarded the jeepney for the next barangay, Calayo, where we were to spend the night. Along the way, I noticed the same thing I did when I first came here in September: every activity in the hacienda came to a halt when darkness set in. Fear stalks Hacienda Looc these days, but especially at night.