Native tribe petitions army to stay in Abra

LICUAN-BAAY, Abra—More than 1,000 members of the Binongan tribe have petitioned military authorities to retain the army battalion assigned in the province to maintain peace and order in the area, Mayor Alejo Domingo said on Tuesday.

He said tension was high in the town following the killing of tribal leader Ama Licuben Ligiw, a former communist rebel, who has returned to the folds of the law, and his two sons last March 3, and both security forces and the communist New People’s Army (NPA) have been blaming each other for the murders.

“There are threats from the NPA because of the unresolved killing,” Domingo said.

In their petition written in Ilocano titled “Pakaammo,” members of the Binongan tribe expressed support to the 41st Infantry Battalion and denied reports they complained of alleged military abuses in the area. The “Pakaamo” was issued during a meeting of the council of elders to thresh out problems caused by the Ligiw case.

Other than helping maintaining peace and order, the soldiers have been engaged in repair and rehabilitation of school buildings, construction of various community projects such as foot bridges, barangay halls, basketball court and day-care centers. The soldiers also perform a pivotal role in times of disasters.

The Abra Provincial Police Office challenged soldiers and the rebels to undergo lie detector test to get to the truth on who was behind the murders of the Ligiws and to settle the issue once and for all.

A police spokesman said the soldiers went through the polygraph test, but members of the leftist Kakailan Salkniban Tay Amin Naggapuan and the Cordillera Human Rights advocates refused to cooperate.

In Isabela province in Cagayan Valley, 69 former members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) who have been integrated into the armed forces, completed six months of rigid military training.

The group was the last batch of former CPLA members to undergo training and they will be assigned to the 5th Infantry Division, Ifugao Gov. Dennis Habawel said.

The CPLA gave up their rebellion in 1986 after a new constitution provided for creation of an autonomous region in the Cordilleras.

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