Jeffrey Ariz, the construction worker who was shot dead by an unidentified suspect last Friday in Angeles City, was considered a hero in his community in Pandi, Bulacan.
The incident occurred in Bgy. Anunas early in the morning of May 7, where the victim and some 25 of his friends were fixing the materials they were to use in fencing the property of a private land developer.
Ariz’s group was supposedly sub-contracted by Excelsum Properties Solutions, Inc. (EPSI).
Ariz, according to his live-in partner Nerissa A. Frianela, 29, was a good leader and headed a “breakaway” group of the controversial Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), which took over and illegally occupied a government housing project in Pandi in 2017.
The housing units were built for uniformed personnel of the government and as a resettlement for informal settlers. The audacious act drew the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte, who later persuaded soldiers and policemen to drop their claims to the houses to prevent bloodshed.
In 2019, 35-year-old Ariz and some 300 others disbanded themselves from Kadamay and returned to the government fold, according to published reports.
In last Friday’s incident, Frianela said her live-in partner seemingly had premonitions of what would happen to him.
“Nung umalis siya ng umagang iyon, sinabi niya na bahala na raw yong mga kasamahan niyang magtuloy ng trabahong naiwan niya. Tapos sumasakit ulo niya noon at ayaw niya sanang pumasok kaya lang kailangang magtrabaho,” she recalled.
Bam Masongsong, EPSI’S PR Officer, explained that it was Ariz’s second time to go to Bgy. Anunas last Friday. The first time was when he inspected the place before the supposed fencing.
Ariz was shot at close range and sustained a gunshot wound to his chest. He was declared dead on arrival at the Angeles University Foundation Medical Center.
An eyewitness, who requested anonymity, said a group of men arrived at their place of work. These men, witnesses said, were from a group of informal settlers who refused to leave the private property.
These “hardliners,” Masongsong said, were allegedly being coddled by a “wannabe politician” gunning for a local position, and who claimed to be a Pampanga coordinator of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Meanwhile, Hausland Development Corporation issued a statement condemning the perpetrators.
“Hausland condemns in the strongest possible terms, this terroristic and criminal act. We call upon authorities to investigate the case with deliberate dispatch, arrest all those criminal perpetrators, their supporters, and funders,” it said.
EPSI, on the other hand, sent its lawyer, Jairus Baldemor Rubio, to talk to Ariz’s bereaved family, to assist in their quest for justice, and to extend financial assistance.
Masongsong reiterated that justice should be served. Ariz’s body will be brought to Angeles City for autopsy.
Frianela and the victim’s relatives requested for security during the wake. Ariz left behind two young boys, aged 7 and 1.
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