On 7 March 2014, Freddie ‘Fermin” Ligiw, (29), Eddie Ligiw, in his mid thirties and Licuben Ligiw in his mid sixties were found in a shallow grave near their hut. Their bodies were piled one on top of the other in the grave. The body of Eddie was at the bottom. He was shirtless when found. On top of him were the bodies of his father, Licuben and his brother, Fermin.
All were in a fetal position. The hands of Eddie and Fermin were bound by thick nylon ropes. There were rope marks around the neck of Ama Licuben. Eddie had dark marks in the chest area. Fermin’s head was “nalumo” (iloko term) meaning that some parts of his head had been severely beaten.
On 2 March, Fermin went home from the military operation after he was forced to serve as guide by the military. He ate with his family and told them he would see his father Licuben at their pacalso. Fermin, his brother, Eddie and father, Licuben, were last seen by their family members at their pacalso, a hut used as shelter of farmers and small-scale miners. The three never returned home. For days, the family members assisted, by the Abra Human Rights Alliance, searched for them.
Fermin was supposed to meet with human rights groups to narrate how he was forcibly used as a guide when he went missing. On 19 February he was forcibly taken by elements of the 41st Infantry Battalion. He served as guide in the military operation against the New People’s Army in Lenneng, Domenglay, Baay-Licuan, Abra Province.
The three victims and their immediate family are from Binongan Tribe in Tingguan, Abra. They are members and leaders of Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin ti Nagtaudan, (KASTAN), the provincial chapter of Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) in Abra, an indigenous peoples organisation. These organisations have long been under attack by the AFP with their political vilification campaigns, branding these organisations as terrorists.
Even after the Ligiws were laid to rest, harassment, threats, intimidation and other human rights violations heightened in the community due to the continuing presence of the military.