NDFP challenges GRP to conduct joint investigation on killings of children and minors

In a letter to Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria, Chairperson of the GRP-Monitoring Committee, Fidel V. Agcaoili, Chairman of the NDFP-Monitoring Committee, proposed a joint investigation on the killings of 12 children and minors, including an eight-month old fetus, which the GRP Technical Working Group (TWG) suggested “actively participated as combatants in encounters with the military” in a 20 December 2006 report that was released only in August 2007.

In a letter to Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria, Chairperson of the GRP-Monitoring Committee, Fidel V. Agcaoili, Chairman of the NDFP-Monitoring Committee, proposed a joint investigation on the killings of 12 children and minors, including an eight-month old fetus, which the GRP Technical Working Group (TWG) suggested “actively participated as combatants in encounters with the military” in a 20 December 2006 report that was released only in August 2007.

Complaints on the killings of the children and minors were filed by their families and human rights organizations against the GRP with the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The victims, who were killed on different occasions from 2001-2006, are: John Kevin (3) and Dexter Blanco (1 and ½), and the then unborn fetus (eight months) of Olivia Blanco; Mary Jane Jimelo (9); Nina Angela Apolinar (9); Bernie Ani (15); Mylene (11) and Raymond Golloso (4); Joey Santos (15); Aldassir Padiwan (10); Dante Salgado (17); Amante Abelon Jr. (5); and Wilmer Masimid (3).

In his letter, Agcaoili condemns the “blatant attempt by the TWG to distort facts in order to absolve the GRP military and police of responsibility for the deaths of the above-named children and minors with the lie and propaganda spin that they were NPA combatants, like what happened in the case of Grecil Buya (9) on 31 March 2007.” Worse, such propaganda spin is meant to provide the GRP military and police “with the excuse and license to continue killing children and minors in military operations in the countryside.”

The TWG practically “dismisses outright the complaints filed against the GRP with the JMC despite vital information and evidence submitted by the complainants.” Agcaoili added: “It also disregards the testimonies of witnesses to the killings, including the parents of some of the children, who directly attributed their deaths to the military, police and paramilitary of the GRP, even citing specific names and battalion units.”

“A simple reading of the complaints would reveal that most of the children were below ten years old and could not have possibly carried any firearms to be combatants; that the children were killed either in their own homes, near their workplaces/farms, or in the presence or company of their parents; that they were killed while in the middle of activities that could not be categorized as hostile or military in character; and that the victims either had parents who are or were members of progressive organizations or party list groups, or were themselves members of such organizations but falsely accused of being NPA members.”

In his proposal for joint investigation, Agcaoili also proposed the “participation of a representative each from the UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Royal Norwegian Government (Third Party Facilitator) as international observers in the fact-finding investigations” to ensure “objectivity and guarantee the safety of the members of the JMC.”

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