SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Mining, murder and militia 2

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 March) – The killing last March 5 of Jimmy Liguyon, barangay captain of Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon by a band of former New People’s Army rebels has led to more revelations on the dynamics spawned by mining interests in the area. Accusations and counter-accusations among the parties involved, as aired over dxDB-Malaybalay, have unwittingly shed light on previously vague aspects of what’s happening in that place.

Additional circumstances and characters have surfaced making the background of Liguyon’s death clearer.”

Family members of the victim pointed to Aldy “Butsoy” Salusad, a rebel surrenderee as the killer, although he had two companions at the time of incident. The suspect happens to be the son of another rebel surrenderee, Benjamin “Nonong” Salusad.

Just this week the elder Salusad had finished his training as member of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu).

Liguyon’s relatives said the Salusads are members of the Sanmatrida, a tribal organization in San Fernando headed by one Chris Estrella, a resident of Valencia City, Bukidnon and a non-Lumad. They alleged that Butsoy told the people of Dao they killed Liguyon for refusing to endorse Sanmatrida’s application for a mining venture in the barangay.

In an interview with dxDB anchor Demosthenes Demit on March 12, Estrella declared the following: Butsoy is not a member of Sanmatrida, only his father is; Dao Barangay Councilman Fausto Bacliran could be behind Liguyon’s killing because of an earlier dispute between them; and Liguyon had already signed a document endorsing Sanmatrida’s mining application.

Bacliran, in an interview the next day over dxDB, refuted Estrella’s insinuation that he could be behind the killing. He said that while it is true that he and Liguyon had a dispute they had settled it with other local officials as witnesses.

Insulted by Estrella’s imputation, Bacliran dared the Sanmatrida leader to face him in a “tigi”. Estrella did not accept the challenge.

Among the Lumads of San Fernando, tigi is the traditional version of a lie detector test, although it may look like a crude way of determining guilt or innocence. Persons accused of a wrongdoing but deny it would be made to hold in his hand a hot piece of metal. If his hand does not get burned, it means he is innocent. It it gets burned, he is guilty.

Being a non-Lumad he cannot be forced to submit to a tigi, but Estrella needs to prove that Liguyon had indeed endorsed in writing Sanmatrida’s mining application. If the late barangay chair had signed an endorsement, then why was he killed?

This morning, San Fernando Vice Mayor Levi Edma told the same radio station that Liguyon did not sign any endorsement because he had instructed the barangay captain not to sign any document coming from Sanmatrida that does not bear his signature. Liguyon’s family members confirmed the mayor’s statement.

Meanwhile, Butsoy, who was said to be carrying a baby Armalite rifle, has not been heard of. His father and a military official were non-committal on whether they could make him surrender and face his accusers.

How many more lives in San Fernando will be sacrificed in the lust for gold? And, by the way, as I asked before, who gave Butsoy that weapon? (MindaViews is the opinion section of Mindanews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])

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