Constancio “Chandu” Claver, a doctor in Kalinga for the past 25 years, accused the government and the military of masterminding the attack that killed his wife, Alice, and traumatized his seven-year-old daughter Cassandra. “We believe that the killers of my wife are death squads brought here by the military and the Arroyo regime to try to quell the insurgency,” he said.
BY EMILY VITAL
An independent investigation into the attack against a community doctor in Tabuk, Kalinga has raised doubts on the sincerity and efficiency of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in solving the case.
Dr. Constancio “Chandu” Claver sustained three gunshot wounds when two armed men sprayed bullets on his SUV last July 31. His wife Alice who sustained 26 gunshot wounds was killed. Their seven-year old daughter Cassandra was physically unharmed.
Claver has been practicing medicine in Kalinga for 25 years. He is a past president of the Kalinga Medical Society. He is also the chairperson of Bayan Muna (People First)-Kalinga chapter and vice chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA).
Dr. Genevieve Rivera, a member of the fact-finding team initiated by the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR), said that her team interviewed several witnesses to the incident. She said that the assassins were riding on two Delica vans, one white and another dark-colored, with no license plates.
Rivera said that the place of the shooting incident was 250 meters away from a PNP station and 200 meters away from the police barracks. “The assassins passed two PNP checkpoints in Tabuk,” she said, adding that the vehicles headed towards the direction of Tuguegarao.
When the relatives asked for the PNP’s help, Rivera said the police officers told Claver’s relatives they had no load on their cellphones.
Rivera said, “During the burial of Alice, these vehicles were seen going freely around town.”
Dr. Reginald Pamugas, secretary general of HAHR, said that PNP-Kalinga Director Pedro Ramos immediately went on air via a local radio station after the attacks on Claver. “Ramos proclaimed Alice was dead on arrival when in fact Alice then was still struggling for her life.” Alyce died at noon of the same day.
Rivera said that Ramos, when interviewed by radio station DZRH, claimed that Dr. Claver is a member of the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Rivera said, “We demand that Ramos be immediately relieved from his post. We seriously doubt the sincerity of the PNP in solving Chandu’s case.”
Chandu, principal target
The fact-finding team concluded that Dr. Claver was the principal target of the assassination.
The concentration of the bullets was on the passenger seat where Dr. Claver was originally seated. The couple switched places before leaving Tabuk National High School.
The team also said that there was a clear intent to kill. At least 36 empty M-16 shells were recovered from the crime scene.
The report also noted that the attack was carried out with military precision. There was obvious surveillance and planning prior to the shooting.
In a videotaped testimony, Dr. Claver pointed to death squads as the perpetrators of the attack. “We believe that the killers of my wife are death squads brought here by the military and the Arroyo regime to try to quell the insurgency.”
Dr. Claver said, “It (Arroyo government) has now launched an oplan (operation) that does not only target armed elements but also unarmed progressive elements who fight for people’s rights.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the Justice for Chandu Movement, said that state forces have a record of gross human rights violations. “Elements of the Armed Forces and the paramilitary groups killed Bobby dela Paz. The first barrio doctor in Agusan del Sur was also harassed by (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit or) Cafgu.” Bulatlat