MURDERS IN NORTH LUZON’S ENVISIONED ECONOMIC PARADISE?

STA. ANA, CAGAYAN —Residents in this coastal town have condemned alleged killings committed here in the last few months.

The latest incident happened in sitio Kiriring, in the seaside village of San Vicente, where three men were gunned down  in a beer joint last Monday by unidentified assailants.

A certain Rafael Liquigan, a resident of the town, identified one of the fatalities as his cousin Val Mateo of Valley Cove. Another relative was earlier killed in the area, he said.

Liquigan manages the website Santa Ana, Cagayan Kontra Korap na Opisyal at Mga Maninira sa Kalikasan, a 4,400-member watchdog against illegal logging, dynamite and cyanide fishing including corruption of public employees in the municipality.

No arrests have been made and the perpetrators are allegedly protected by high-ranking town officials.

“The situation and the criminal cases here should be handled by the National Bureau of Investigation,” a resident who refused to be identified by name, said in Ilokano.

It was learned that there is a proliferation of beer joints and brothels especially in the far-flung sitios and villages in this town.

One resident claimed that there are no security guards in most of the amusement places, to provide protection to customers as well as workers that include bar girls.

In a Facebook post that was later withdrawn, another unidentified resident said he was taking the issue of the  unsolved killings before the town council as well as the village council, where some of the murders were committed.

He expressed fears that his town could become a “killing field” in the future.

Located at the northeastern tip of Cagayan, this town is a major component of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport that operates as a separate customs territory similar to Hong Kong and Singapore. It has a casino, resorts and first class hotels, mostly patronized by an international crowd.

As an economic zone, CEZA aims to develop the whole area–Mabbag in Aparri town and the islands of Fuga and Barit– into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial investment, commercial and tourism-recreational center, according to its website.

Sta. Ana is noted for its fine beaches like the Anquib beach which has been featured in some Philippine television shows; and breath-taking sunsets.It includes Palaui Island whose beach was chosen by CNN as the 10th most beautiful in the world in 2013.

Majority of Sta.Ana’s more than 30,000 population are Ilokanos, whose descendants came mostly from Ilocos Sur. It was created in 1949 by virtue of an executive order issued by then President Elpidio Quirino. Guerrero Coloma/NorthboundPH