Freddie Ligiw was supposed to meet with human rights groups to narrate how he was forcibly used as a guide by soldiers from the 41st IBPA of the AFP when he went missing. The bodies of Freddie, his brother and father were later found in a shallow grave.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Youth groups condemned the killing of Freddie Ligiw, a member of progressive youth group Anakbayan in Abra, his father Licuben and brother Eddie allegedly by members of the Philippine Army 41st Infantry Battalion last March 2, 2014.
“We condemn in the highest terms the murder of Ligiw and his kin. Not content with depriving him of his liberty previously as a virtual military hostage, the Philippine Army deprived him, his brother, and his father of their very lives,” Einstein Recedes, national chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, said.
The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance reported that Ligiw, 29, was last seen on March 2, 2014 at their house in Sitio Sukaw, Domenglay. He was going to meet his father at the pacalso, a temporary hut used by farmers, and would then go to the mining site.
Eddie, mid-thirties, and Licuben, on his mid-sixties, were also seen at the pacalso that day.
The Ligiw family is from the Binongan Tribe from Tingguan, Abra.
“The three were expected to be home at Sitio Sukaw that night but they did not show up. The following day, the family of the victims started to search for them. They were not at the pacalso and the small scale mining site and in the community,” the report added.
In a text message, their family informed the Abra Human Rights Movement that the three were missing.
On March 7, 2014, a search team composed of 50 residents found a shallow grave near the pacalso but were told not to exhume the three bodies found inside and wait for the police to conduct an investigation.
Their remains were exhumed a day later, March 8, 2014.
“According to the family, the bodies were piled one on top of the other in the grave. The body of Eddie was at the bottom. On top of him was the body of his father Licuben. Freddie’s body was on top. All were in a fetal position. Their hands were tied. Eddie and Freddie were gagged,” the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance reported.
Human rights group Karapatan said there have been 169 victims of extrajudicial killings, 825 illegal arrests, 13,528 victims of demolitions and 63,077 victims of threats and harassment.
Used as military guide
In a fact sheet prepared by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, members of the 41st Infantry Battalion of the AFP conducted a military operation in Lenneng, Domengglay, Baay-Licuan in the province of Abra on Feb. 19, 2014.
“Soldiers of the 41st IBPA of the AFP took Freddie “Fermin” Ligiw with them against his will to serve as a guide in the said military operation against the NPA (New People’s Army) who were suspected to be present in the area,” the fact sheet read.
Anakbayan said Ligiw was supposed to meet members of human rights groups last March 4 to narrate how he was forcibly used as a military guide or, in effect, a human shield, during their military operations in the area.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and village officials, on the other hand, are spreading information that the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines and indigenous peoples groups Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin ti Nagtaudan (Kastan) and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) are behind the abduction of the three victims and, consequently, their killing, the human rights group reported.
Ligiw, Eddie and Licuben were members of Kastan and CPA.
Youth group Anakbayan said their group is being singled out for its criticisms of the Aquino administration. Ligiw’s killing, for one, coincided with their campaign for the abolition of the Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
“Weeks before Fermin was killed, military agents subjected Anakbayan to a campaign of character assassination in mainstream and social media, maliciously linking us to underground organizations. It’s clear who has a grudge against Anakbayan for its tireless advocacy of the rights of the youth,” Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan, said.
The League of Filipino Students said the Aquino administration 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 tradition of the AFP to shut his critics.”
Anakbayan-USA, for its part, called on the US government to cut all its military aid to the Philippines because it does not benefit the Filipino people.