MANILA, Philippines - Religious leaders from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) met with Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III to call on government to serve the warrant of arrest for a certain Alde "Butsoy" Salusad.
The group lamented how Salusad remains scott-free in spite of the issuance of the warrant by the trial court on March 30 for the killing of UCCP Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon chairman Jimmy Liguyon, Datu of the Matigsalog Tribe, last March 5.
The group claimed that Liguyon was executed by Salusad and his "paramilitary accomplices" inside Liguyon's home in front of two members of his family. They said Liguyon, as barangay captain, received threats after refusing to sign the San Fernando Matigsalog Tribal Datu Association (SANMATRIDA) Cooperative's Free, Prior and Informed Consent for the legalization of high-grade gold mining in Barangay Dao.
Baraan said the DOJ will order one of its attached agencies -- the National Bureau of Investigation -- to help serve the arrest warrant.
"Ang commitment natin ay dapat mapausad ang hustisya. We have to serve the warrant immediately doon sa mga akusado... ito mga akusado na, kasi na-file na po ang kaso. Ee will ask the NBI to assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) in effecting the arrest of Alden Salusad," Baraan said.
Plea to the President
In a one-page letter to President Aquino, dated Dec. 7, the UCCP urged Malacanan to effect the arrest warrant and to interfere in the tension in Barangay Dao for the protection of indigenous peoples there.
The group claimed that Salusad's father, Benjamin, reportedly the "commander" of the Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) under the Army 8th Infantry Battalion (IB), threatened tribal leaders that they "would be next" for standing up against logging in a 3,000-hectare forest cover.
"With heavy hearts, we write this letter appealing for your urgent action. We ask you, Mr. President, how many more Indigenous Peoples from Barangay Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, will you let die?" the letter read to Mr. Aquino read.
UCCP said that aside from Liguyon's killing, 2 more UCCP members fell victim to extra-judicial killings in 2012 alone. The 2 other victims were identified as Abundio Mantugohan and Datu Erning Mantugohan, brothers from Sitio Slide of the same area.
Outside the gates of the DOJ, a protest was held to dramatize the cause of UCCP.