Inter-faith Mission documents rampant IP killings in Bukidnon

Nov. 21, 2012

Beverly Longid, first nominee of the Katribu party-list, said that they were alarmed at the growing number of IP leaders killed due to their opposition to either mining or similar development projects, which have affected their communities and the environment.

Davao Today

SAN FERNANDO, Bukidnon, Philippines — As assassins of local Lumad (indigenous) leaders here continue to roam free and unpunished, a national indigenous peoples (IP) party-list labelled Bukidnon as one the provinces where impunity reigns.

The group Katribu party-list came up with this conclusion after an inter-faith solidarity mission (ISM) held last November 17-19 here documented three lumads killed in the span of a few months.

The mission report also said that aside from the killing of Dao chieftain Datu Jimmy Liguyon last March 5, a certain Abon and an Erning Mantugohan were also killed in Slide Dao, San Fernando, this province.  Abon was killed in January while Mantugohan was killed in October.

Beverly Longid, first nominee of the Katribu party-list, said that they were alarmed at the growing number of IP leaders killed due to their opposition to either mining or similar development projects, which have affected their communities and the environment.

“They got killed because they remained steadfast to their cause to protect their respective ancestral domains and the environment against further destruction,” Longid told

Longid lamented that the lives of both IPs and non-IPs advocating for the rights of the Lumad and for the protection of the environment are getting more and more endangered.  To date, a total of 32 indigenous and environmental activists have been killed, 24 of them were local IP leaders while some 159 IP leaders are facing pending warrant of arrests of various crimes.

“These killings and legal harassments are devastating our IP leaders and their respective communities,” Longid said.  “If this will continue, this government and its state forces are liable to destroy the ways of life of these Lumad communities,” she added.

The Mission report added that some 35 lumad families or 130 individuals from Dao, San Fernando were forced to evacuate to the Capitol grounds in Malaybalay City after they were allegedly harassed and intimidated by paramilitary group National Indigenous Peoples Army Reform (Nipar), which is said to be under the command of 86thInfantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The ISM was organized by the Katribu’s Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization; rights group Karapatan-Northern Mindanao; Community-Based Health Services;  and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao.

Liguyon, who was shot dead in front of his family in Dao village, was a staunch leader of the Matigsalog and Tigwahanon tribes and led protests against the San Cristo Mining, which had a (mining) exploration permit that covered some 13,000 hectares in San Fernando.  San Cristo Mining is an associate of the IndoPhil Mining, a partner of the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI)-Xtrata Mining in the provinces of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat.

Liguyon’s family and witnesses identified Nipar paramilitary leader Aldy ‘Butchoy’ Salusad and other Nipar members as the killers.

In April, a warrant of arrest was issued against Salusad and other Nipar members, who up to now, remain fugitives.

Killers of IP and environment advocate Father Fausto ‘Fr. Pops’ Tentorio also remain free.  Paramilitary Bagani group is said to be behind the cold-blooded murder, which happened inside his parish premises in Arakan last year.  Before Tentorio’s killing, the Italian missionary was known to visit the villages on the boundaries of Arakan Valley and Bukidnon to promote of literacy, medical services, IP organizing  and scholarship programs for IP children.

In May 9 this year, two months after Liguyon’s killing, Margarito Cabal, 47, a local government employee from Bukidnon, was gunned-down.  Cabal was noted for his active community organizing and for his opposition of the hydro-electric dam in the locality.  Cabal’s case, too, remains unsolved.

In July, the international Human Rights Watch called on the Aquino administration to cease the deployment of paramilitary forces in mining areas.  In its paper “Philippines: Killings of Environment Advocates Unpunished,” the New York-based rights group said the Philippine government failed to address threats and killings of environmental advocates in its bid to promote new mining investments.

“The government should redouble in its investigations into the attacks on advocates, particularly when evidence points to the involvement of the military or the paramilitary forces; arrest and prosecute all those responsible; and protect witnesses at risk,” the report further said.

“Pres. Aquino has enacted decrees encouraging mining investments in the country, but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates,” said Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch’s Asia Deputy Director.

Meanwhile, Katribu also criticized the provincial government of Bukidnon after it denied the the ISM and IP groups’ a venue to present the mission findings last November 19.  Longid said the provincial government’s  apathetic attitude over the plight of the IPs will aggravate human rights violations in the Bukidnon.  (Danilda L. Fusilero/

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