Abra probes Ligiw massacre

ABRA police chief Benjamin Lusad has ordered a thorough investigation on the deaths of the Ligiw clan.

Lusad said the death of Licuben Ligiw, and his sons, Freddie "Fermin" and Edie is an isolated incident and not hampering peace efforts for the province.

The Abra top cop said as soon as the family reported the three Ligiws missing, police immediately went to the area to confirm reports and the next day found the graves of where the three were buried.

According to a report by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (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 at Baay-Licuan, Abra. The family is a member of the Binongan tribe.

Lusad said the Abra Crime Laboratory as well as the CIDG and the Philippine Army have combined forces to locate the gravesite and conduct an investigation.

The CHRA report meanwhile said, "They were bound and gagged, and placed unceremoniously on top of one another and has tagged members of the (Army's) 41st IB (Infantry Battalion) as suspect in the killings who are said to be conducting operations in the area when the Ligiws were last sighted on March 2."

Lusad said an investigation on the death of the Ligiws is ongoing gathering witnesses as well as dialogs with the elders of the town.

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) spokesperson Piya Macliing Malayao in a statement said, "This is no mass grave. Rebel executions are a worn lie of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) meant to overshadow the fact that the AFP is victimizing unarmed civilians under its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan."

"The Ligiws are civilians, but are a thorn in their side, because of the family's involvement in organizations that condemned the militarization and human rights violations exacted by the AFP to the people in the province," the statement added.

KAMP said Fermin Ligiw was due to file on March 4 a human rights violation report to the CHRA after he was used as a guide to aid the military in pursuing members of the New People's Army.

"These slays top 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," added Malayao.

The Ligiws were also active members of activist organizations, with Fermin as a member of activist group Anakbayan while all of the 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,” Malayao said.


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