From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 9): Filipino family murdered, buried in shallow grave
A father and his two sons who were reported missing had been found dead and buried in a shallow grave in the northern Filipino province of Abra.
The trio – Rogelio Ligiw, 68; his sons Eddie, 35, and Freddie, 30 – were reported missing since March 1 until the discovery recently of the mass grave by soldiers and locals in the village of Mugao in the town of Licuan-Baay.
The military has quickly blamed the murder of the trio to the communist rebel group New People’s Army, saying Freddie Ligiw was a former guerrilla who surrendered to the government in March 2011. And that he was murdered by the rebels along with his father and brother for betraying the communist movement.
The 41st Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Danilo Domingo said the three men disappeared after a group of rebels were sighted in the village. Josephine Cariño, the village leader, also reported the disappearance of the father and his two sons to the police.
“The discovery of the mass grave was brought about by the trust and confidence of the populace to the army and the police. This is a clear manifestation of Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan that all people are responsible in achieving peace. This only shows that the army and the police are the true protector of the people in Licuan-Baay, Abra,” a military statement said.
But the League of Filipino Students and the youth group Anakbayan to which Freddie Ligiw - also known as Fermin - was a member, has accused the 41st Infantry Battalion of murdering him and his family and condemned the brutal killings.
“He (Freddie Ligiw) along with his father and elder brother was gagged, tied-up, killed, and then buried in a shallow grave where they were discovered,” Jho Abueg, of the League of Filipino Students, said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Abueg said Freddie Ligiw was supposed to give a testimony on how the military forcibly used him as a guide and more likely, as a shield, by government troops in their operations against the NPA.
“Given the recent attacks in the mainstream media by members of the Philippine military against Anakbayan, there is clearly only one group in the entire country with an interest in assassinating its members and the progressive youth. Under Oplan Bayanihan, the U.S-Aquino regime continues to perpetuate heinous crimes such as this.”
“President Aquino is desperate in quelling the growing discontent and rage of the people bought about by his pro-elite, pro-foreign, and anti-people policies. Aquino's PR stunts and cheap media gimmicks to fool the youth and the people are not working anymore. This is precisely the reason why, just like his predecessors, Aquino is more than willing to employ violence and rely on the mercenary traditions of the Armed Forces to shut his critics,” Abueg said.
Diego Wadagan, a spokesperson for the NPA in Abra province, alleged that government soldiers had illegally detained and interrogated Freddie Ligiw, a small scale miner, on February 22 and was forced to guide the soldiers to Mount Inuman and held captive near their swidden farm, while other troops illegally searched his thatched hut where soldiers confiscated a shotgun commonly used by locals for hunting before being freed later in the night.
Wadagan said government troops also searched other houses in the area and violated the rights of innocent villagers.
“These incidents unmasked the never-changing true character of the Armed Forces’ counter-insurgency or internal security operations. Illegal searches, interrogation, detention, and intimidation are acts concomitant with AFP operations, that terrorize the populace and are clear violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws, which are condoned by the reactionary civilian government officials,” he said.