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 shooting incident occurred in Bgy. Anunas in the early 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, 35, according to his live-in partner, Nerissa A. Frianela, 29, was a good leader and headed a ‘breakaway’ group from the controversial Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), who took over and illegally occupied a government housing project in Pandi, Bulacan in 2017. The housing units were built for uniformed personnel of the government and as resettlement for informal settlers (IS).
Kadamay led 8,494 families, or about 12,000 people, in forcibly entering idle houses at six social housing projects in Mapulang Lupa, Masuso, Cacarong Matanda, Cacarong Bata and Siling Bata villages on March 8, 2017.
This drew the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte. He later persuaded soldiers and policemen to drop their claims to the houses to prevent bloodshed.
In 2019, 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 ‘yung 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 conducted an ocular inspection of the place, before the supposed fencing.
Ariz was shot at close range and sustained a gunshot wound on 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 the group of IS who refused to leave the private property.
These “hardliners,” Masongsong said, were allegedly being coddled and led by a certain Pyra Lucas, a wannabe politician gunning for a local position and who claimed to be a Pampanga coordinator of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, but documents show she was already ousted by the group.
Meanwhile, Hausland Development Corp. issued a strong statement against the crime perpetrator/s.
“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,” its statement read.
EPSI, on the other hand, sent its lawyer, Jairus Baldemor Rubio, to talk to Ariz’s bereaved family and to assist in its quest for justice and 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 were requesting for security during the wake. Ariz left behind two young boys – seven and a year old sons.