A Catholic diocese said it is saddened by the shooting incident that wounded four people in the village of San Jose in Quezon town, Bukidnon, a province on Mindanao island.
Tuesday’s incident took place during the meeting of labor leader and presidential candidate Leody de Guzman with indigenous farmers.
Those hurt include two Lumads and two human rights advocates, according to the diocese in a statement issued Wednesday, April 20.
“It is sad that it had to happen during this continuing celebration of the Octave of Easter where the main message of the Lord to humanity through the Church is peace,” Bishop Noel Pedregosa of Malaybalay said.
De Guzman and his two companions, senatorial bets Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo were left unscathed in the attack.
The group was in the area to discuss how the Manobo-Pulangiyon tribe could reclaim their ancestral lands in a land dispute when gunfire erupted.
The bishop then urged all stakeholders to engage in dialogue “for the sake of peace and of the integral and sustainable development of the Lumads”.
He also called for the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 “because it is the law that governs the issue at hand”.
“(The Lumads) have the rights to their ancestral domains which for many years have been deprived from them,” Pedregosa said.