Int’l mission investigates killings by paramilitary group NIPAR in San Fernando, Bukidnon

Malaybalay City, Bukidnon --“We are concerned that despite the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Alde Salusad and his group NIPAR (New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform), no serious operations have been made to seize him,” said Beverly Longid of the Katribu Indigenous Peoples’ Partylist.
Longid is among the more than 200 individuals from local and international human rights organizations that convened the ‘International Solidarity Mission in Defense of Indigenous Communities Fighting Impunity’ or ISM that kicked-off yesterday at Philtown Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, and travelled to this city to join indigenous peoples of Matigsalog tribe that were displaced from various parts of the village of Dao in San Fernando town, Bukidnon.
The more than 30 Matigsalog families are crammed inside makeshift tents in front of the Bukidnon provincial capitol to evade threats and harassments of Salusad’s group.
“This is the second wave of displacement of the indigenous communities of San Fernando after the death of village leader Jimmy Liguyon. Salusad was never held accountable after the killing, impunity is no doubt the name of the game in this part of the world,” said Richard Gadit, human rights advocacy officer of the Thailand-based Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP).
Liguyon, village chieftain of Dao, was killed by Salusad in front of his family on March 5 this year after he refused to sign the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) peddled by the latter. The CADT covers 52,000 has. of ancestral lands of the Matigsalog tribe in San Fernando. Among the extractive companies now operating in San Fernando is the San Christo Mining Company, exploring more than 13,000 has. of Matigsalog lands. San Christo is an associate of Indophil Resources, a partner of the controversial SMI-Xstrata Mining Co. operating in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
After the death of Liguyon, harassments against the members of the community continued. Cases of torture and indiscriminate firing were committed by NIPAR against the members of Liguyon's tribe to force them to support the CADT. 

During the mission,Atty. Jarley Sulay-Trugillo of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) revealed that at least two other people were killed by NIPAR. “The Matigsalogs failed to file cases against the perpetrators for fear of reprisals. There is no rule of law in San Fernando!” said Trugillo.
The mission is set to conduct further interviews and will soon come out with their report. 
The mission organizers plan to file charges against the culprits. The mission findings will also be submitted to the different agencies, both local and international bodies like the Asian Inter-Governmental Human Rights Commission and to the United Nationsm including foreign missions in the Philippines, 

Mission member Ngach Samin from the group Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association said, “it is a great opportunity to show solidarity to the displaced Lumads. I will bring these human rights cases in my country for support.” Mission participants will also extend medical and psychosocial services to the evacuees. 
Jomorito Goaynon of Kalumbay said that government inaction has compelled their organization to bring up the case before the international community. “What is evident after months of tireless campaigning is that the culprits seem invulnerable. Aside from local resistance, an international pressure is needed to put a criminal like Alde Salusad behind bars and break the culture of impunity in San Fernando and elsewhere” says Goaynon. 
On October 7, 2012, Salusad, in a pathetic attempt to pressure the displaced Matigsalogs to come back to sitio Kiranggol, took hostage three individuals. Julia Malus-ag, 25, and her four children all residents of Sitio Kiranggol are currently in the hands of NIPAR. 
Longid says that the case of Liguyon and his community prove that the upscale of capital investments for large-scale mining operations begets increasing numbers of rights abuses. 
“As IP’s ancestral lands sit atop rich mineral deposits, we have been the prime victims of gross human rights abuses by pro-mining groups, the military and their paramilitary forces.This has been the pattern all throughout the country. Aquino III is doing nothing about this,” says Longid. 
The ISM is convened by Kalumbay, Karapatan Northern Mindanao, Community-based Health Services and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR). It is backed by the AIPP through its Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Defenders Network project supported by the European Union.###