Protesters seek justice for slain anti-mining village chief

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    PROTESTERS took to the streets in Malaybalay, Bukidnon yesterday to demand justice over the killing of Dao, San Fernando village chief Jimmy Liguyon, a known anti-mining advocate. Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri facilitated a dialogue among members of Liguyon’s family, local government officials as well as representatives from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NICP) and the Army. The protesters, composed mostly of indigenous peoples and farmers, called on the government to arrest and put on trial the suspects in Liguyon’s killing.

    Liguyon’s family has identified one suspect as Alde Salusad, alleged leader of a group called New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (Nipar) based in San Fernando. Nipar supposedly sent a statement to DxDB-Radyo Bandilyo in Malaybalay, admitting that it had a hand in the killing of Liguyon because he was allegedly a New People’s Army (NPA) supporter. Liguyon’s son Randy denied Nipar’s claim, saying that the only reason his father was shot was due to his refusal to sign a document prepared by the San Fernando Tribal Datus Association (Sanmatrida) that would allow a big mining company to operate in the area. Out of the 20 leaders of villages covering some 52 thousand hectares in San Fernando that are reportedly rich in gold, cooper, pyrite and crystal, Liguyon was the only barangay chair who refused to sign the document.

    “His insistence on not signing anything that would make way for the entry of big mining companies in our community was the only reason why he was killed,” Randy told this paper in an exclusive interview. After Liguyon’s death, Randy and the rest of the family had to move out of Dao for fear that they were targets, too. The Liguyons are staying at a makeshift where they are camping out along with dozens of supporters in front of the Bukidnon capitol since last week. “We will only go back to Dao if the suspect is arrested and charged in court,” the younger Liguyon said. Meanwhile, an employee at the Bukidnon provincial prosecutor’s office has confirmed yesterday that they have received a complaint against Salusad and 14 other John Does.

    By JIGGER JERUSALEM Correspondent

    Source: Mindanao Gold Star Daily