Jimmy Liguyon

The murder of Jimmy Liguyon illustrates the climate of impunity prevailing in the Philippines.

On March 5, 2012, Liguyon, an anti-mining activist and chairperson of the church council of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, was shot by Alde Salusad, the leader of the paramilitary organization New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR). NIPAR is part of the civilian militia (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit – CAFGU) and in this function under the command of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine military.

Liguyon was Barangay Captain of the village of Dao and chairperson of a local indigenous group which wanted to prevent mining projects planned in the region. In this function he came into conflict with Salusad, the head of the San Fernando Tribal Datus Association (SANMATRIDA), an association of local indigenous leaders who collectively make a claim to 52,000 hectares of land in order to be able to award mining concessions. However, Liquyon’s consent was required to legalize their claim.

Because he refused to give it, he had already previously received a series of death threats, including several from Ben Salusad, the father of the suspect and himself a member of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the AFP. Alde Salusad is reported by a witness to have said after the murder: “I killed the captain because he wouldn’t [join] the SANMATRIDA and refused to give certification to SANMATRIDA.”[1] In addition, NIPAR published a letter claiming responsibility in a local newspaper stating that they had killed Liguyon because he had been a member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Although Alde Salusad was identified by witnesses and has been sought on an arrest warrant since the end of April 2012, he has not been arrested to date. Numerous reports suggest that he is still living in Dao, San Fernando and is harassing and threatening other mining opponents. It is suspected that the local police know of his whereabouts but fear reprisals should they carry out the arrest warrant. Calls by international organizations and Philippine NGOs to have Salusad arrested by the national police instead for this reason have thus far gone unheard.

In the meantime, Salusad and NIPAR control the small-scale prospecting activities in San Fernando. Seventy-eight families, including the family of the victim, have fled Dao because they fear for their lives as long as the perpetrator is at large. More than a year later, many are still in temporary makeshift accommodations in the provincial capital Malaybalay. [2]

Jimmy Liguyon is the third victim of a political murder within the UCCP since June 2010.

 

 
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