Lipa City - - - Finally, a peace covenant to stop the growing war between the rival groups reportedly involved in Bauan town’s deadly scrap metal business, was signed by the Bantugon and Dolor camps in a reconciliation meeting held at the Archbishop’s Palace in Brgy. Mataas the Lupa, this city on March 24.
The peace covenant was signed by Leonardo Bantugon and his son Leonilo, whose group reportedly holds the biggest scrap metal business in Bauan, Board Member and former Bauan town mayor Herminigildo Dolor and his son mayor Ryanh Dolor in front of Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, CALABARZON Regional Police Director Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao, Lipa City mayor Meynardo Sabili, and the public.
Leonardo Bantugon and Board Member Herminigildo Dolor signs the peace covenant. At the back is Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto who witnessed the event .
For more than three decades, more than a hundred businessmen have been killed over the control of the scraps metal business in Bauan. The victims were either ambushed or killed in public, but when the police started their investigation, nobody was brave enough to testify. Hence, the victims’ families never got the justice for their slain family member.
According to Arguelles, the covenant signing is seen to put an end to the killings and would hopefully start the peace and order in Bauan.
|Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles also signed the peace covenant.|
Pagdilao admitted that the two warring faction’s war was really about the control of the deadly metal scraps business.
“We at the Regional Police Office has put Bauan and the number of its unsolved murders on the list of priorities and special attention,” Pagdilao said,” This peace covenant will hopefully put an end to the killings.”
|PNP Regional Director Chief Supt Samuel Pagdilao also signed the covenant of peace.|
In his speech, Bantugon stressed that in his village, he had no record of ever starting any trouble. Dolor, for his part, denied having any involvement in illegal activities.
Bantugon and Dolor clans shook hands as a symbol of peace. With them were Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, and PNP Regional Director Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao
Bantugon and Dolor only shook hands once, but still stayed on the opposite ends of the table.
A Southern Luzon INQUIRER source from Bauan told this writer that his town hopes Bantugon and Dolor would really take this peace covenant to heart and finally stop their war.
“Too many people have already died. I hope this peace covenant would also mean that justice would finally be served to all those who have been killed,” the source said.
The scrap metal business have been a billion-peso industry that involves the selling of high-grade metals from the factories and ship-building companies along the coasts of Batangas Bay (Batangas City, San Pascual, Bauan, and Mabini towns).
For more than three decades, only the bravest, more politically connected, and reportedly, the biggest armed groups were able to hold the monopoly for the business.
The struggle for the control of the business has proven to be too deadly as the death toll rose with each businessmen who try to join the very lucrative industry killed by hired guns.
For the first time in history, a Batangas governor was brave enough to make the warring factions meet, shake hands, and even sign a covenant of peace.
|This is for peace. For the first time in history, a governor (the first female governor) was able to end a deadly dispute.|
Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto said in her speech that the province mean business, and by that, peace and order should be taken seriously.
Bauan used to be a first class municipality, but the unsolved crimes that always landed on the pages of newspapers casted the town into the dark image that made its classification slip into second class and could slide down to third class if the killings continued.
Also present during the covenant signing were Chief Supt Lina Sarmiento, Sr.Supt Edgardo De Leon, Chief Supt Aaron Fidel, Supt. Manuel Abu, Supt. Francisco Rodriguez, and Lipa City OIC, Supt. Alexander Mariano. (Mei Lubis, with a report from the PNP-Batangas PPO)