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Remembering Wilcie

Rabindranath S. Polito
Teehankee I
Wilcie Gica--a Higaonon farmer, a father of two and an abandoned husband--was shot
dead six days before his 30th birthday in Maramag, Bukidnon.
This demise gave birth to an unplacated Higanonon wrath. Eight days after the shooting
incident and as a sign of demonstration, all members of the Panalsalan Dagumbaan Tribal
Association (PADATA) brought Wilcies coffin by the side of the road near the regional
office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Cagayan de Oro
City.
The PADATA believes that the government erred in granting the Villalons the right to
occupy the land where the Higaonon farmers have been farming for so long. Under
Republic Act 8371, Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is required in securing
Forest Land Grazing Management Agreement (FGLMA).
In 2010, the Villalons FGLMA was approved by then Environment Secretary Horacio
Ramos after securing an FPIC.
However, PADATA chair Vilma Monera said the Villalons never obtained the FPIC from
them, instead they obtained a fake FPIC from the Manobo tribe in another village.
Such misery cascaded down to the life of Wilcie.
In 2009, Wilcies wife, hoping for a better life with the promise to work as a household
help, left for Cagayan de Oro City. Since then, she neither returned home nor was she
ever heard from.
On August 24, 2011, Wilcie left his two sons to his mother to attend a meeting called for
by the guards of the Villalon Ranch purposely to inform him and his group that they were
not allowed anymore to till the land they have been farming.
Killing Wilcie
According to the guards, they notified and ordered the farmers to submit their backpacks
and bolos before entering the venue for security reasons but Wilcie refused to hand over
his backpack and drew his handgun instead. Avoiding possible harm and acting in self
defense, one of the guards shot Wilcie.
The victim actually tried to draw his gun when he was asked to submit his backpack.
That prompted the guard to shoot him, Senior Supt. Canilo Fuentes, the deputy
provincial director, said in an interview.
However, Carmelita Guiwanon, one of the farmers and witnesses, said in her affidavit

that Wilcie arrived late--right after the guards had given the instructions. Then, a guard,
without explaining the procedure to Wilcie, grabbed his backpack. Having no idea of the
previous order to hand the bags and bolos to the guards, Wilcie refused to part with it. It
was then that he was shot by a guard named Milo Ceballos.
When Welcie was already down, the security guard continued shooting him, hitting him
on the left side of the body and on the neck, Guiwanon said. Her affidavit was received
by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor at 11:20 a.m., a day after the incident.
Knowing Wilcie
As narrated by the guards, while refusing to hand his backpack, Wilcie drew his handgun
which led one of the guards to shoot him.
He had no gun! Wilcies father defended his son in an interview. He claimed that his
son did not even own a gun. He believed it was planted by the guards.
Wilcies colleagues, the witnesses, corroborated with his fathers claim. They knew
Wilcie and contradicted the claims of the guards. He had no gun.
During the shooting, Wilcies colleagues were scattered and upon their return, they saw
him on the ground with bullet wounds and surprised to find a handgun on his left hand.
Releasing the Suspects
The guards were detained after the incident but Wilcies colleagues and family were
dismayed to find out that the suspects were released.
Senior Supt. Canilo Fuentes said the security guards were released from prison because
the 36-hour detention period had expired and no case had been filed against them.
According to him, the witnesses did not cooperate with the police and refused to submit
their affidavit while the suspects were still detained at the police station. Hence, the
guards were released from detention.
However, in the investigation conducted by the Task Force Mapalad (TFM), a group
helping farmers, it was discovered that the Villalon guards were released less than 24
hours after the shooting incident, not after 36 hours as announced by Fuentes. TFMMindanao coordinator Joseph Coles said the Maramag police chief, Chief Insp. Linoraldo
Maylan Torres, may be administratively liable for the early release of the nine Villalon
Ranch guards.
We will file administrative charges at the Ombudsman against the arresting team and the
police chief for releasing the suspects, Coles said.

Missing Wilcie
For a period of time after his death, Rosita Gica, Wilcies mother, had a hard time
explaining to her two grandsons why their father was no longer home.
I tell them their father is in the farm, harvesting corn. And the children would ask, Papa
is harvesting corn? Is he buying bread, too?
These children will be raised forever waiting for the return of their father--always
wanting to see him again--smiling and carrying the bread in his hand.
It has been four years since the incident.
Wilcie has been abandoned by his wife before he was killed. Now, will justice abandon
him, too?