Court to start hearing case on murder of 4 miners, known as ‘Gata Massacre’, in Caramoan, CamSur

Photo courtesy of Karapatan Bikol

Photo courtesy of Karapatan Bikol

By Joey Natividad

SAN JOSE, Camarines Sur (BicolToday.com) – Court hearing on the suspects allegedly involved in the murder of four (4) miners, known as Gata Massacre, in Caramoan, this province, will commence very soon at the Regional Trial Court in this town.

The court hearing will finally start after two years of waiting for justice by families of the victims, online news BicolToday.com learned Tuesday.

Alleged gunmen Provincial Government employees

4 small-scale miners were murdered Sunday night of March 23, 2014, at their camp by gunmen allegedly connected with the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur.

Barangay Gata in Caramoan is a gold-rich area where dozens of residents work in small-scale mining.

Before the killings, the site was visited several times by men belonging to the provincial environment group and this group wants to control or “cartelize” the production and trading of placer gold nuggets.

The accused are members of Taskforce Sagip Kalikasan (TSK), controlled by the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur.

Among the accused are Francisco “’Eco’ Tria, Joel Breso alias Bay who is allegedly the TSK team leader, Servillano Espares and several Capitol employees.

See related news March 25, 2014 – Police nab 7 suspects in massacre of 4 miners

Key witnesses on the killings are Barangay Chairwoman Mercy Sueno and councilman Maximino Breis of Gata.

Public outcry, protests over the killings

On Thursday, January 21 (this year), families of the victims staged a rally in the City of Naga and cried for justice as authorities were slow in investigating the massacre and had encountered stumbling blocks over gathering of evidence.

During that week after the massacre in March 23, 2014, human rights group Karapatan-Bikol condemned the killings and blamed “politics, state-violence, and greed” under a culture of impunity.

See related news article March 28, 2014 – Human rights group blames ‘politics, state-violence and greed’ in massacre of Caramoan 4 

Obstruction of justice, cover-up by Capitol

Investigation by authorities had taken a downspin at some periods in time as gathering of evidence had turned out difficult after provincial capitol officials refused to cooperate with investigators who wanted to get the roster of Capitol employees, specifically those belonging to the environment department and Civil Security Unit.

Even Governor Migz Villafuerte refused to turn over vital information which might help authorities in the investigation.

Photo courtesy of Karapatan Bikol

Photo courtesy of Karapatan Bikol

Governor Villafuerte stripped by NAPOLCOM of deputy powers

Villafuerte’s refusal to cooperate had caused the ire of the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) which, later, purged the Governor of his “deputy powers.”

In stripping Villafuerte of “deputation powers accorded to as Deputy of NAPOLCOM”, the police commission cited the Governor’s involvement in “covering- up investigation of the Gata massacre; protecting the suspects and coddling of armed men; obstruction of justice; and acts inimical to national security.”

See related news November 9, 2014 – Camarines Sur Governor Villafuerte purged as NAPOLCOM Deputy, ‘Acts inimical to National Security’ cited  [BicolToday.com]

Posted by on January 29, 2016. Filed under Bicol News,Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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