‘Bakwits’ from Bukidnon village refuse to leave capitol

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 April) – Evacuees from Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon have refused to vacate the capitol grounds, saying their presence here is the best way to pressure the government into rendering justice for the killing of their village chief last month.

Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. on Wednesday asked the evacuees to move to an area near the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples office in Barangay 9, Malaybalay.

At least 20 families have encamped at the capitol grounds to demand justice for barangay captain Jimmy Liguyon, who was killed on March 5 allegedly by Aldy “Butsoy” Salusad, the leader of a paramilitary group.

Zubiri told reporters he asked them to move where it is safe for their children.

Sharon Liguyon, widow of the slain village chief said they cannot accept the offer of the vice governor because that is not what they came here for.

“We asked for the government to arrest those behind the slaying of barangay chair Liguyon,” she told reporters near their tents minutes after Zubiri left.

Leah Tumbalang, secretary-general of the Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog to Lumadnong Ogpaan (Kasilo), one of the groups supporting the evacuees told DXDB Thursday afternoon they were told that the makeshift houses the vice governor ordered built for them will be finished in 10 days.

She said they thanked Zubiri for the initiative but they will not likely take the offer. She said they will instead hope that the police will be able to arrest Salusad within that period.

“That is what we are after, not relocation because we want to go home once Salusad is arrested,” she added.

Liguyon said they saw that some men who came with Zubiri had started to remove their tents. But they protested.

“We are ready to be here for long, as long as Salusad is not arrested,” she said.

Liguyon was killed on March 5 allegedly by Salusad, leader of an armed Lumad group called the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (Nipar).

Salusad, who had admitted to killing Liguyon in an interview over DXDB last month, reportedly threatened to kill the victim’s family members and supporters.

Supt. Rustom Duran, Bukidnon provincial police director, said no warrant of arrest has been issued against Salusad for the murder of Liguyon even if there were reports warrants have been issued against the suspect for previous charges.

Tumbalang said they believe they can exert more pressure for the police to arrest Salusad if they remain at the capitol grounds. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)