Condemn the Massacre of the Ligiw Family by the 41st Infantry Battalion!

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) statement

10 March 2014

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) strongly denounces the massacre
and brutal killing of Freddie “Fermin” Ligiw, Edie Ligiw and their
father Licuben Ligiw on March 2, 2014 in Sukaw, Domenglay, Baay-Licuan,
Abra by elements of the 41st Infantry Battalion, which has a notorious
track record of rights violations in Abra, such as indiscriminate
firing, arrest and detention, harassment and intimidation of community
members. The victims’ bodies were recovered on March 8 by kakailian in a
shallow grave near the victims’ pacalso, a temporary shelter for farmers
and small-scale miners. Their hands were bound and their mouths were
gagged. They were piled on top of each other. They were obviously
buried, in the perpetrators’ hope that they won’t be found, that no one
will know. Fermin was a member of Sidakan-Anakbayan, and with his
brother and father, members of the Lenneng-Killeng Tingguian Farmers
Association (LEKITIFA). These organisations are members of KASTAN
(Kakailian Salakniban tay amin a Nagtaudan), the CPA Abra chapter. The
victims were active leaders of the people’s campaign against destructive
mining in Baay-Licuan.

Data gathered by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) shows that
as early as February 19, elements of the 41st IB conducted military
operations in Lenneng, where Fermin was forcibly taken to serve as a
guide in the military operations against suspected NPA presence in the
area. Family members last saw Fermin, Edie and Licuben on March 2 at
their pacalso. The three were expected to be home in sitio Sukaw the
same evening, but they never showed up. The family searched for them the
following day. Search teams were later organised to continue looking for
the victims, until the grave was discovered on March 7. Fermin was
scheduled to meet with CHRA and the Abra Human Rights Alliance on March
4 or 5 to give his account of when he was coerced to be a military
guide. He never made it to the meeting.

Not so long in late February, a fictitious organisation Ifugao People’s
Council circulated posters in Banaue entitled ‘Rupa ken Nagan dagiti NPA
nga Agsusweldo’ with malicious accusations against Jude Baggo, CHRA
secretary general; Emerson Soriano, CPA Staff; Beverly Longid, KATRIBU
President and former CPA chairperson, among other personalities, whose
names and photos appeared in the posters, in still another desperate
attempt to vilify defenders and advocates of indigenous peoples rights
and human rights. In another northern Luzon province just recently as
well, peasant leader Romulo dela Cruz was abducted on March 1st in
Isabela. He has not been surfaced until now.

At least 43 indigenous peoples were killed in cold blood under this
current PNoy regime, which has long-proven it is no different from the
past Arroyo regime. It is the same fascist regime that instigates, plans
and executes this national policy of terrorism across the country. Today
it is called Oplan Bayanihan and is masked with deception and
pronouncements of respect and recognition of human rights and
international humanitarian law, but in reality, its concrete examples
include the bombings in Malibcong and Sagada last year and the rape of
young women in the mining community of Mankayan in 2012. As in Arroyo’s
Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, Oplan Bayanihan is implemented by the Armed
Forces, and is therefore accountable for countless rights violations,
including PNoy as commander in chief of the AFP. We demanded from PNoy
justice for all victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo
regime, but all it did was add to the number of killings, harassment and
enforced disappearance of human rights and development workers,
activists and advocates.

What does government intend to do with the increasing number of victims,
orphaned children, families and communities when it has the knack
allowing such injustice to prevail? Clearly, there is no room for human
rights and justice under this regime, and we the people must rage
against a State that breeds lawlessness and human rights violations.
PNoy must step down, lest he is ousted.If the State can go on with the
killings and vilification only because of people’s political beliefs,
then who will protect and defend the people? The Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, of which Philippine government is a signatory, states
that “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have
recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression,
that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…” Therefore,
let us not allow this culture of terrorism and impunity to continue. Let
it be known that the people have a right to defend themselves, to
mobilise for our human rights, and to rise against fascism and extra
judicial killing as what happened to the Ligiw family, and against a
terrorist and fascist regime. ***

ATB Anongos, Secretary General

No. 55 Ferguson Road
Baguio City 2600, Philippines
Telephone No. +6374 3044239
Fax No. +6374 4437159


Not a ‘mass grave,’ Ligiw family slay are extrajudicial killings–IP group

Indigenous peoples organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng
Pilipinas (KAMP) condemned the slays of Licuben Ligiw, and his sons,
Freddie “Fermin” Ligiw and Edie Ligiw, all farmers and members of the
Binongan tribe in Baay-Licuan, Abra.

According to a statement by 1st Lieutenant Rowena Abayon, 5th Infantry
Division spokesperson, the Ligiws were executed by the New People’s Army
and then buried in a ‘mass grave.’ KAMP and other human rights groups
are unconvinced, however.

“This is no mass grave. Rebel executions is a worn lie of the AFP, meant
to overshadow the fact that the AFP are victimizing unarmed civilians
under its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Piya Macliing
Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP claimed. “The Ligiws are civilians but are
a thorn in the side of the AFP, because of the family’s involvement in
organizations that condemned the militarization and human rights
violations exacted by the military to the people in the province.”

KAMP says Fermin was due to file on March 4 a human rights violation
report to the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) after he was used
as a guide to aid the military in pursuing members of the New People’s Army.

According to a report made by the CHRA, The Ligiws were reported missing
by their family on March 6, and were found after a search on March 7,
buried in a shallow grave near their hut. They were bound and gagged,
and placed unceremoniously on top of one another. The CHRA suspects that
members of the 41st IB, who are said to be conducting operations in the
area when the Ligiws were last sighted on March 2, may be involved in
the killings.

“These slays top off the of the headcount of extrajudicial killings of
indigenous peoples. There is no end to the military’s brutality against
the indigenous peoples and the Filipino people fighting for their
rights. We condemn the massacre of the Ligiw family, and demand the
pullout of the military in indigenous communities in Abra,” Malayao said.

KAMP says that the Ligiw massacre raised the killings of indigenous
peoples to 43 under President Aquino’s administration. Earlier this
year, Lumad leader Rolando Ambongan, a datu (village chief) in
Buenavista, Agusan del Norte was slain, his killing is attributed to
paramilitary group Bagani Force and Cafgu under the 29th IBPA. Ambongan
was a staunch-anti-mining plunder activist, who resisted the entry of
mining in their ancestral lands. Ambongan is also a member of
progressive indigenous peoples’ party, Katribu Partylist.

The Ligiws were also active members of activist organizations, says
KAMP. Fermin is a member of activist group Anakbayan. All three are
members of KASTAN (Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin ti Nagtaudan), the
provincial chapter of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in Abra.

“Like other indigenous peoples slain before them, the Ligiw family has
gained the ire of the military because of their political affiliations
and involvement in anti-mining plunder, and anti-militarization
campaigns in the province. The killings of activists like themselves are
no news in the Aquino admininstration, who had cradled impunity so
well,” Malayao said.

KAMP has organized the Stop the Killings of Indigenous Peoples Network
in 2012, in response to the “unabated killings of indigenous peoples.”

Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, near Quezon Avenue corner EDSA, West Triangle,
Quezon City
(02) 412-5340