I abhor and condemn in the strongest terms the killing of Rosita Furigay, the former mayor of Lamitan City in the island province of Basilan, her staff Victor Capistrano, and Jeneven Bandiala, a security personnel of Ateneo de Manila University last Sunday. Also wounded during the attack was the ex-mayor’s daughter.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families. We also pray for the fast recovery of the former mayor’s daughter.
I am deeply saddened and angered by this brazen act of violence that happened at the grounds of the Ateneo de Manila University as parents and law students were preparing for the graduation ceremony.
I have known the former mayor for more than a decade. While I was a battalion and brigade commander in Basilan and eventually headed the Western Mindanao Command, and now as the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, I have witnessed how the former mayor spearheaded change and development efforts in Lamitan City. Her initiatives fostered interfaith dialogue, respect and mutual understanding among the tri-people in the city.
Former Mayor Furigay was also instrumental in implementing programs and projects, which have transformed Lamitan from a once conflict-ridden area, into a showcase of economic progress and development. She will always be remembered.
The peace process has lost a strong ally especially in the island province of Basilan. Mayor Rose is known for her integrity and credibility on good governance that is why it is impossible to believe in those allegations and innuendos thrown against the late mayor and her family.
The culture of violence has once again reared its ugly head. We must not allow such incidents to happen. Violence has no place in a peaceful and democratic society, as we move towards our collective goal of achieving a just and lasting peace throughout the country. *###*