MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 March) — Protests over the death of Lumad leader Jimmy Liguyon took a breather on March 21 when his daughter Jasmin delivered a baby boy in the family’s makeshift tent at the Capitol grounds.
To remind the family and their supporters of the demand for justice for the slain leader, the boy was named “Justice Jimmy.”
Liguyon, barangay chair of Dao in San Fernando, Bukidnon, near the reported center of illegal gold mining operations in Bukidnon, was gunned down inside his house evening of March 5.
Twenty three families from Liguyon’s clan had pitched tents at the Capitol grounds since March 14 to demand justice.
Justice Jimmy was delivered with the help of a hilot (midwife).
His mother, Jasmin, 14, told reporters she had mixed feelings about the birth of her son: happy that the child is born and sad that he arrived in the midst of chaos and discomfort.
Jasmin married at the age of 13, according to traditional tribal practice.
Leah Tumbalang, chair of the Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog to Lumadnong Ogpaan (Kasilo) and a trained midwife who assisted Jasmin told reporters they tried to request help from a member of the Civil Security Unit to bring her to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center (BPMC) but no help came, forcing them to use the traditional birthing method.
Liguyon was vice chair of Kasilo, a group that opposed mining in the area. The group that owned up the killing – the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (Nipar) – accused Liguyon of being a supporter of the New Peoples Army (NPA).
Tumbalang said the Liguyon kin in the Captiol grounds, particularly the children, have been suffering from diarrhea.
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.
Baby Justice Jimmy was born on the day of the dialogue.
The family sought refuge in the provincial capital following threats allegedly from the younger Salusad, the alleged leader of the Nipar.
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.
Nipar admitted having killed Liguyon in a statement read on March 20 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 MindaNews 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/MindaNews)