An old petition to free physician Chao Tiao Yumol or Yumul, the identified gunman in the shooting incident at the Ateneo de Manila University, resurfaced online.
The shooting incident during the graduation ceremony of the Ateneo Law School students in Quezon City onSunday, July 24. left three dead. Among the casualties include former Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay, her aide Victor George Capistrano and Ateneo’s security guard Jeneven Bandiola.
Rose’s daughter Hannah, who was supposed to graduate, and another bystander were injured. They are currently recovering from their injuries.
Based on reports, Yuml “merged with the crowd” before he opened fire on victims.
He was later apprehended and brought under police custody at Camp Karingal in Quezon City.
Following reports about Yumol’s arrest, links and screenshots of a petition to “free” him circulated on Facebook and Twitter.
One Twitter user pointed out that this petition was not related to Yumol’s latest arrest.
The user said this in response to another user who asked others for help to verify the circulating screenshot of the petition.
“This petition was made back in Sep 2019 for the cyber libel charges filed by the late former mayor Rose Furugay,” the user said.
The petition was created by a group called Doc Chao Yumol Supporters via Change.org three years ago.
The group appealed to then-President Rodrigo Duterte to free the physician from imprisonment
Yumol was facing over 26 counts of cyber libel charges for his Facebook posts against Rose, the vice mayor and other city government employees at that time.
The target number of 1,000 signatures, however, was not met.
Only 870 individuals signed the online appeal.
In September 2019, Yumol surrendered to the police over charges of maligning government workers on social media.
The enmity between Furigay and Yumol
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Furigay’s family lawyer Quirino Esguerra said that Yumol’s grudge against Rose dates back as early as 2018.
The then-provincial mayor issued a cease-and-desist order on Yumol for operating an infirmary clinic across the Lamitan City Hall without a permit.
“When she implemented that order from BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), dun nagalit yang si Chao Tiao Yumol,” Esguerra said.
The lawyer said that this closure order prompted Yumol to post “malicious insinuations” against Rose and the other government officials online.
“Because of that he posted several malicious insinuations against the mayor, vice mayor and the city government employees leading to the filing of more than 70 cyber libel cases,” Esguerra said.
On the other hand, Yumol claimed that Rose and her husband, current Lamitan Mayor Roderick Furigay were drug lords in Basilan.
He also alleged that the couple had been trying to “ambush” him many times after he exposed them for their supposed drug involvement.
Concerns on comments to free the gunman
Some Filipinos, meanwhile, expressed grave concern over comments and remarks that seemed to show approval of Yumol’s deed.
“I am seeing some doctors sympathizing with the Ateneo gunman (who’s also a doctor) in the comments section of some circulating FB posts. I can’t even,” doctor Carlo Trinidad (@hellokidneyMD) tweeted.
One Redditor also posted on the subreddit r/Philppines a screenshot of TikTok comments that expressed empathy for Yumol.
Fatima Gaw, UP professor and researcher, said that Yumol’s violent act is an example of how “hyper-partisanship” and antagonism can inflict on people in real life.
A cursory check on Yumol’s verified Facebook account with 66,000 followers, shows that he is posting criticisms against former Vice President Leni Robredo.
“The shooter in Ateneo is a pro-Duterte & pro-Marcos influencer with 60K followers on Facebook who promote hyper-partisanship and antagonism vs Robredo and the opposition. The violence he inflicted online has now taken real lives, hurt innocent people, and traumatized hundreds,” Gaw tweeted.