DOJ orders hunt for antimining activist’s killerBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to hunt down and arrest a militia leader in Bukidnon who is accused of killing an antimining activist in front of his family in March.
Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan issued the directive after Sharon Liguyon, widow of slain activist Datu Jimmy Liguyon, five bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and several clergymen and lay workers appealed to the DOJ for justice.
A warrant of arrest has been issued against Alde “Butsoy” Salusad, primary suspect in the case, but he continues to evade the law.
“Our commitment is for justice to move in this case and for the warrants to be immediately served,” Baraan said after meeting Liguyon and her supporters.
“We will ask the National Bureau of Investigation to assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) in effecting the arrest of Butsoy and his accomplices. They belong to an armed group so we need to plan well their arrest,” he added.
Family was witness
Baraan said Salusad allegedly shot dead Liguyon, a UCCP local council chair and barangay kagawad (councilor), outside his home in Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon on March 5, 2012. The victim’s wife and two children witnessed the killing.
“He was killed because he was an environmental activist who was against mining. A case has been filed against Salusad but the warrant of arrest has not been served,” Baraan said.
The UCCP alleged that Salusad leads the armed group New Indigenous Peoples Army Reform (Nipar) and that he has been able to roam freely in San Fernando, “armed with a baby armalite.”
“We appeal for an urgent investigation into why the PNP has failed to arrest Salusad. He should immediately be taken into custody,” the UCCP said.
The church also alleged that Nipar was conniving with the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary of the 8th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army. SCAA is reportedly headed by the suspect’s father, Benjamin Salusad.
2 other murders
In a letter to President Aquino, UCCP bishops said that Nipar and SCAA were also involved in the killing of two other UCCP members earlier this year.
“We ask you, Mr. President, how many more indigenous peoples from Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, will you let die?” the letter said.
“The climate of impunity is only strengthened as warrants of arrest are not served, alleged perpetrators remain at large, and paramilitary forces are permitted to make death threats, harass, intimidate and sow terror amongst the indigenous peoples in far-flung areas,” it added.