SP wants illegal mining in Bukidnon stopped

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 March) – The Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan has passed a resolution urging an immediate stop to all illegal mining operations in the province in the wake of violence that rocked a barangay in San Fernando town recently.

The resolution, passed in a special session last week, cited the situation in Barangay Dao, San Fernando town where barangay chair Jimmy Liguyon was killed on March 5 allegedly by an armed group led by Andy “Butchoy” Salusad,

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 members who surrendered to the 8th Infantry Battalion in Maramag town on Nov. 15 last year. He 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 later formed a paramilitary group called New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (Nipar).

The board members also called on the military and the police to guarantee the safety of the general populace and Liguyon’s family members.

The victim’s family members, backed by Kasilo or Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog te Lumadnong Ogpaan, are demanding justice for his death. They have taken refuge at the provincial capitol grounds since March 13 due to threats allegedly coming from Salusad’s camp.

In a statement, Kasilo chair Marcelino Mandanuay condemned the killing and called Liguyon an honest public servant who stood against mining in the area.

The group alleged that Liguyon was killed because of his refusal to sign a certification required for Sanmatrida’s CADT and mining applications.

Upon his surrender the elder Salusad called on the government to support their ancestral domain claim and their intent to mine the area.

Col. Romeo Gapuz, chief of the 403rd Brigade told the SP on March 15 that the elder Salusad has nothing to do with the alleged crime of his son. He said the suspect’s father had remained inside the  camp when the incident happened.

In a statement read on March 20 over dxDB Nipar admitted to having killed Liguyon.

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

It added Liguyon was a corrupt barangay official and a supporter of Alamara, an armed Lumad group.

Emelio Liguyon however said his brother was killed for refusing to recognize Sanmatrida and not endorsing its mining application. He alleged that [Aldy] Salusad warned the residents of Dao they would be killed too if they would not support Sanmatrida.

He added that Alamara is also a paramilitary group engaged in fighting the NPA.

Zubiri has traced the killing and the conflict in Dao to gold mining.

San Fernando councilor Richard V. Tabuclaon told MindaNews back in September last year that the mining activities had caused peace and order problems. He said cases of killings and robbery had increased in the area.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region 10 had issued a cease and desist order on the mining activities in Dao saying these are all illegal.

In the order dated August 5, 2011 the MGB warned violators that they would be charged under the Revised Penal Code, Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other environment laws.

Quoting the Office of Civil Defense, the bureau said in the same order that the area being mined is prone to disaster. (Walter I. Balane with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)