UCCP Bukidnon seeks help from inter-faith partners on San Fernando

MALAYBALAY CITY – The threat from Aldy “Butchoy” Salusad the suspect of the killing of Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon barangay chair Jimmy Liguyon is becoming very alarming and is worth immediate attention, Pastor Arturo Veladiez, president of the Bukidnon conference of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines told Bukidnon News Monday.

Veladiez said he will seek the help of Bishop Jose Cabantan, a partner in the inter-faith dialogue,  in a meeting early tonight to address the problem of their church members.

Veladiez called for the arrest of Salusad, his prosecution, and imprisonment to give justice to the death of Liguyon. Liguyon was the president of their local church council in Dao, Veladiez said.

“We cannot leave him and his family in this situation,” he added. A total of 25 families of the UCCP in Dao have fled the village after Salusad threatened to target Liguyon’s family and supporters.

Veladiez did not say if all of those who fled the village joined the ‘kampuhan’ protest encampment at the Capitol Grounds in Malaybalay calling for justice for Liguyon’s death. About 14 villagers arrived in the kampuhan on March 14.

But Leah Tumbalang, chair of the Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog to Lumadnong Ogpaan (Kasilo), told Bukidnon News Sunday additional nine families arrived Saturday to flee danger after Salusad’s threats. The Liguyons fled Dao and sought refuge in makeshift tents at the Capitol grounds a few days after their patriarch was killed.

His son Randy, who was reported to have witnessed the crime, told the dialogue organized by Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. on March 21 that the group of assailants was led by Aldy “Butchoy” Salusad, son of former rebel Benjamin Salusad.

The family sought refuge in the provincial capital following threats allegedly from the younger Salusad, the alleged leader of the Nipar or the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform. Salusad is identified with the San Fernando Matigsalug Tribal Datus (Sanmatrida), which has pending applications for a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title and mining operations in Dao.

Salusad is the son of Benjamin “Nonong” Salusad, a former New People’s Army member, who surrendered to the 8th Infantry Battalion in Maramag town on Nov. 15 last year and who is now a member of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit.

The younger Salusad is also a former NPA rebel. He surrendered in 2010 and allegedly formed the paramilitary group, Nipar.
Salusad admitted having killed Liguyon in an interview on March 26 over radio station DXDB.

In owning up to the killing, Nipar accused the victim of being a supporter of the NPA, that he often joined protest actions by militant groups.

The statement alleged Liguyon was a corrupt barangay official and a supporter of Alamara, an armed Lumad group.

Liguyon’s son, Randy, told the March 21 dialogue that after the shooting of his father, he heard Salusad shout that it was done because the barangay chair refused to cooperate with Sanmatrida.

The slain barangay chair did not sign a form of consent for the group’s ancestral domain title application.

The dialogue ended with Zubiri reiterating a Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolution ordering the military and the police to secure and restore peace and order in the town and to arrest Liguyon’s killers.

But Datu Inbanwag Jomorito Goaynon told reporters they were dismayed because they had hoped the provincial government will act and cause the arrest of the suspect so they can return home.

Instead of returning home, more relatives are expected to arrive from Dao, Tumbalang told Bukidnon News Saturday afternoon. She said about nine more families from Dao are on their way to this city because they could not sleep there anymore due to continuing threats.

A military detachment was set up in Dao in the wake of reports of continued operations of illegal gold mining. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)