Official Statement

Peace and Order Situation in Barangay Bigte, Norzagaray, Bulacan

29th March 2021

 

The International Trade Council (ITC) expresses its grave concern over the deteriorating peace and order situation in Barangay Bigte, Norzagaray, Bulacan, Philippines. Ironically, the breakdown in law and order is being attributed to no less than the officials of Barangay Bigte itself and their agents. Because of the chaos now prevailing in Barangay Bigte, the ITC and its partners and staff have suffered extreme damage and prejudice. No Bulacan government agency approached for help has acted effectively.

Hostility against the ITC and its partners and staff began on 15th January 2021 during a public hearing. The said hearing was supposed to cover the establishment of an animal rescue and rehabilitation center the ITC was helping to build. Instead, the proceedings degenerated into a series of slanderous, defamatory, derogatory, and misleading statements against the ITC and its partners and associates. Worse, the frenzy of verbal assaults was incited and facilitated by some barangay and municipal officials present.

Individual members of the ITC staff were not spared the attacks on the above-described occasion. One member of the Sangguniang Barangay of Barangay Bigte coerced personal documents containing confidential and statutorily-protected information from an ITC associate. The contents of the private document were then read out to those assembled.

The day after the aforementioned public hearing, numerous newly-created and dubious social media accounts started to appear and began posting slanderous and defamatory statements against ITC staff. Notably, the said statements were repetitions of those made by public officials during the same public hearing. Investigation indicates that some of the questionable social media accounts are connected to a Sangguniang Barangay member of Barangay Bigte. In addition, the ITC was shocked to receive evidence that the same Sangguniang Barangay member has been receiving messages from a purported assassin for the murder of ITC staff.

To make matters worse for the ITC, the Sangguniang Barangay member in concern has even succeeded in having the Sangguniang Baranggay issue a resolution declaring an ITC staff member persona non grata, using a petition containing signatures by unconcerned individuals obtained through questionable means. This event occurred even as the said Sangguniang Baranggay member came under administrative and criminal investigation by various government agencies.

The ITC and its staff were fortunate enough to receive support from hundreds of Barangay Bigte residents who signed another petition calling to remove the ITC staff member’s persona non grata status. Unfortunately, the aforementioned Sangguniang Barangay member used their position to obtain copies of the petition and publicly release the same without authorization and in violation of the statutory rights of each and every signatory on the petition. Worse, that same Sangguniang Barangay Member and their agents went from house to house, threatening the signatories in a blatant display of abuse of power.

In fact, the Sangguniang Member in concern has felt enough sense of impunity to repeatedly ignore all communications from the ITC and its staff and counsels despite the legal requirement to do so. The fact that no charge has been filed against the said Sangguniang Barangay member and that the same person continues to issue threats against the residents of Barangay Bigte should be a cause for serious concern for government officials at the local and national levels.

In view of the above, the ITC calls upon the relevant government agencies of the Republic of the Philippines to act regarding this matter with dispatch, not only for the protection of the ITC and its staff but also of Filipino citizens.

Ronald Adams

Board Chairman

International Trade Council