3 small-scale miners found dead in a shallow grave in Abra; farmer still missing in Isabela

Oplan Bayanihan intensifies

"With the rising trend of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, our bases to demand for Aquino to step down is getting stronger," said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. In the first nine weeks of 2014, the group Karapatan already documented 10 victims of the extrajudicial killing, and a case of enforced disappearance.  

The latest case was the massacre of the Ligiw family in Abra, Cordillera region; and enforced disappearance Romulo de la Cruz, a farmer in Isabela, Cagayan Valley region. De la Cruz's disappearance is the 14th case documented under the Aquino regime.

"Kahayupan ang ginawang ito ng militar sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan ni Aquino," Palabay said as the rights group strongly condemned the series of killings. 

"We hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Aquino government accountable, they have blood on their hands and they should be punished. The AFP even had the guts to spread misinformation that the NPA, the KASTAN (Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin ti Nagtaudan) and CPA (Cordillera Peoples Alliance) were behind the abduction and brutal killing of the three," said Palabay. 

On February 19 at Lenneng, Domenglay, Baay-Licuan, Abra Province, elements of the 41st Infantry Battalion took Freddie "Fermin" Ligiw and forced him to serve as guide in the military operation against the New People's Army who were said to be in the area. 

On March 2, Fermin's brother and father, Eddie and Licuben respectively, were last seen by their family members at their pacalso, a hut used as shelter of farmers and small-scale miners. On the same day, Fermin went home from the military operation. He ate with his family and told them he would see his father Licuben at their pacalso. Fermin, Edie and Licuben never got back home. For days, the family members assisted by the Abra Human Rights Alliance searched for the three. 

On March 7, the search team, composed of 50 residents of Domenglay, Licuan-Baay, found a shallow grave near the victims' pacalso. The team wanted to exhume the site but it had to wait for the police.  The exhumation was done the following day. The residents' suspicion was confirmed: the remains of Eddie, Licuben and Fermin were piled up, all were in fetal position. They were bound and gagged. 

The three were member of KASTAN, the provincial chapter of CPA in Abra; Fermin was a member of Anakbayan.

Enforced disappearance

On February 28 in Roxas City, Isabela, Romulo de la Cruz was abducted and remains missing as of this writing. 

De la Cruz came from his son’s wedding and was on his way home when a gray van, without plate number blocked their path. 

Romulo Dela Cruz 

A man, whose face was covered by a handkerchief, alighted from the van and pulled the handlebar of De la Cruz’s motorcycle. Dela Cruz and his passenger fell to the ground. The man then grabbed Dela Cruz by the neck and pointed a small gun to his head. The assailant said he was a member of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).  The man pushed Dela Cruz inside the van where six other armed men were seated. The van quickly drove away with Dela Cruz. 

De la Cruz was a member of Agbiag Matusalem Association-Roxas Isabela (AMA-RI), a member organization of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti (Dagami).