The Lumad communities that have for so long been victimized by the group of Alde ‘Butsoy’ Salusad applaud the news that Salusad, according to the leader of a religious group, had decided to surrender to government authorities.
For more than half a decade, Salusad and his men have terrorized the communities in San Fernando, Bukidnon and the neighboring villages in Quezon. He and his men are responsible for killing several Lumad leaders, including our council member, Datu Jimmy Liguyon in 2012. From that year onwards, Lumad families have repeatedly evacuated because of the threats of their group.
President Duterte said in his SONA speech that he values human life. He said, “Each life that is snuffed out translates into future generations lost.” The operations of Salusad and his men have not only snuffed out the lives of our leaders, who, by our traditions and culture are the forts of our communities, but have also corrupted the innocence of our younger generations. We have been subjected to a perpetual threat, where movement even in our own lands have become guarded and limited. The children have been raised in constant fear of being held at gun’s end.
For these reasons, we are vigilant of this development. We are wary of Salusad’s move – Salusad who had already presented himself before as a man of peace and even partnered with a government institution. We are wary of how his arrest will be handled by the respective government forces. He had already surrendered before – as a previous member of the New People’s Army – and then went to our communities, still fully armed, this time with his own group of bandits called New Indigenous Peoples’ Army for Reform, and with the protection of state forces.
For years, even with arrest warrants, it had been difficult to arrest him. The police said they didn’t have the capacity to go against Salusad and his men. Now, they no longer have a reason – he, himself, will surrender. We want him arrested. We want him incarcerated. We want him to pay for all the pain he has caused our communities. If we could not have him on trial in our traditional court, then we ask the government to serve justice that we have been denied for so long.
To quote the president once more, ‘the people’s patience is wearing thin’. In the past, we have been given varied reasons for the continuing impunity of Salusad and his men. What will come out of his surrender will be a statement of the government’s justice system – if it will indeed function for us, the common people, or it will be a farce, played by money and power.
We, for our part, have made up our mind: we will never cease until we get hold of the justice we and our communities deserve.
Chairperson, Kalumbay Regional Lumad organization
Mobile number 0935-640-1015
11 August 2017
[PHOTO: Lumad women and children who formed part of over a hundred families that evacuated their communtiies in 2012 after Salusad murdered Barangay Captain Jimmy Liguyon]