By DIEGO WADAGAN
Spokesperson, NPA Agustin Begnalen Command
NPA Abra Provincial Operations Command
After the 16 February 2014 firefight in Lenneng, Baay-Licuan, between the New People’s Army Red Fighters and elements of the 41st Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army), the fascist troops unleashed terrorism on the people of Barangay (village) Lenneng, and nearby barangays of Baay-Licuan and Lacub towns. Illegal searches, interrogation and detention were conducted by the soldiers.
Among others, a particular incident took place on 22 February 2014. At about 1:00 pm at Sitio Patong, soldiers detained Fermin Ligiw, a small-scale miner and resident of Sitio Sucao, Barangay Dominglay, Baay-Licuan. He was illegally detained and interogated, and was forced to guide the soldiers towards Mt. Inuman. He was then held captive near their swidden farm, while others illegally searched Freddie Ligiw’s nipa hut. The said nipa hut is strategically situated near a cellsite between the towns of Lacub and Baay-Licuan, and is the usual route of operating troops. The soldiers confiscated a shotgun, commonly used by locals for hunting. He was released at 8:00 pm.
On 3 March 2014, Jessie Ligiw, a brother of Fermin, left his brothers and their father in their nipa hut. On his way to Sitio Dominglay, he saw soldiers of the 41st Infantry Battalion approach the mountain ridge near their nipa hut. Upon his return in the afternoon of 3 March 2014, Jessie was shocked that their nipa hut was in disarray, his brothers and father were nowhere to be found, and that farm tools particularly used for digging were also missing. On 4 March 2014, Jessie alerted the barrio folk of Dominglay and nearby barangays about the absence of three members of the Ligiw family: Fermin Ligiw, his elder brother Eddie, and their father Licoben. On 5 March, some of the barrio folk started searching for the missing Ligiws. And on 6 and 7 March, a full mobilization of the people of Dominglay and neigboring barangays was launched in search of the missing Ligiws, with local barangay and town officials, people’s organizations, and cause-oriented groups joining the search.
The people’s worst fear was confirmed in the afternoon of 7 March, when what seems to be a recently dug gravesite was found. The shallow grave was found at the other side of the mountain ridge, already within the municipal territory of Lacub town. And on 8 March, exhumation of the bodies in the said gravesite confirmed the brutal massacre of the three Ligiw family members.
The people immediately condemned the 41st Infantry Battalion for the cruel and terroristic murders. There was no question among the majority of the people that the 41st Infantry Battalion is responsible for the dastardly acts. Only officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly those of the 41st Infantry Battalion, 503rd Brigade, are notorious for human rights violations, deeply ingrained in the people’s memory from brutal experiences in the 1970s to the early 1990s, and again since 2003 to the present.
It is utterly stupid for 41st Infantry Battalion propagandists to claim that the NPA is responsible for the massacre. There is no reason at all for the NPA to do such an evil act. In fact, Fermin Ligiw is a former NPA, who was recently asking for re-admission to the NPA. The 41st Infantry Battalion might have suspected this and had this flimsy basis for the brutal and senseless killing of the three Ligiw family members. It is doubly foolish for the 41st Infantry Batallion, led by Lt. Col. Domingo, to specifically accuse one of the NPAs as the perpetrator, as the said comrade is a cousin of Licoben Ligiw.
The officers and soldiers of the 41st Infantry Battalion responsible for the massacre should be punished!
The people are fed up with the AFP’s deceit and human rights violations. They should launch sustained protest actions and evict AFP troops and para-military groups in their communities and tribal territories. Tinggians and Ilocanos of Abra should unite and forge unity against fascism and militarization, against large-scale mining, and in furtherance of agrarian revolution. Indemnification for the families and punishment for the human rights violators should be pursued through various means and venues.
We challenge the barangay and town officials to heed their constituents’ demands and fight for their aspiration to have peaceful communities free from the AFP’s atrocious presence, and based on social justice. We challenge the church leaders, especially the members of the Chuch-Military Advisory Group (CMAG) to protect their flock, dissociate themselves from the fascist murderers, and take the side of the people.
We commit revolutionary justice for the Ligiw family, and other victims of human rights violations. The brutal murders shall be avenged.
We pay our highest tribute to the Ligiw family, especially to Fermin, for selfless revolutionary service and sacrifice. Their martyrdom is an inspiration to the revolutionary movement, and their deaths will fan the flame of revolutionary struggle.
Long live the shining memory of the Ligiw family!
Justice for the Baay-Licuan Massacre victims!
Punish the 41st Infantry Battalion!