June 17, 2012 in Baguio City
By DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — Residents and officials of 14 barangays adjacent to the Camp John Hay reservation retold the harrasment and intimidation they suffered from the security guards of the Catalina Security Agency during a public hearing held at the Baguio City Session Hall on June 15.
According to the punong barangays of the said villages, they never experienced problems in the past seven years when the Superb agency was in charge of guarding the 247-hectare Camp John Hay Reservation until recently when the new security agency came in. The said barangays surrounding the former American military base, rest and recreation facility are Loakan Proper, Loakan Apugan, Loakan Liwanag, Greenwater Village, Lower and Upper Dagsian, Hillside, Sta. Escolastica, Lucnab, Happy Hallow, Country Club Village, Outlook, Camp 7 and Scout Barrio.
After the contract with Superb agency ended, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) tapped Catalina Security Agency and temporarily took charge last April. The said agency is currently manning the security of Subic and Fort Santiago.
According to Kagawad Rudy Munar of Hillside barangay, they were surprised that the security guards roaming around their area looked rugged and clad with long firearms. He said that the guards seem to have lack of proper training based on the way they handle their issued firearms. Other officials from other barangays confirmed Munar’s statement. They added that some of the security guards are not in proper uniform and there are also instances that they held drinking sessions in the stores of the barangays while on duty.
Punong Barangays Clarence Lingwayon of Upper Dagsian and Magdalena Lambac of Greenwater complained that the security guards unrespectfully cutoff the hoses for the water supplies of the two barangays. They said that the guards are taking baths in the area where the water hoses are located making it unsanitary.
Joselito Diwan Dizon of barangay Happy Hallow recounted how he was shot at by the security guards last May 3 this year. According to him, he and his companions were taking a rest after a community-initiated road rehabilitation project when Catalina personnel led by Jeffrey Banton approached them and stopping them from their activity. He said that the men seems to be intoxicated at that time with their firearms.
Dizon said that he protested the harassment the guards were doing. An altercation erupted and some of the guards pointed their guns at him. He added that the guards tried to handcuff and take him. He said that he feared he will be “salvaged” so he struggled and was able to fled. He ran as fast as he could when suddenly he was fired at by the armed group.
On May 17, Dizon filed criminal charges against the security guards.
The said hearing was initiated by the Baguio city council through the council committee on Human Rights, Justice, Public Relations and Safety, Peace and Order chaired by Edison Bilog. The activity was also attended by council committee on Barangay Affairs Chair Joel Alangsab and council committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Traffic Legislation Chair Nicasio Aliping Jr. Catalina Security Agency was represented by its legal counsel Atty. Lito Azurin. Also present is Engineer Leandro Yangot Atty. Genevieve Ayochok and some personnel of the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) of the BCDA.
Azurin apologized for what their guards did. He assured that he will bring the complaints of the residents to the management of the security agency. According to Yangot, the existence of Catalina is only on a temporary basis and that they are set to bid out the security management of the camp to inetersted agencies this June.
The councilors said they will make appropriate resolutions on the matter during their next regular session. # nordis.net