Investigate NPA killings in Bukidnon, group told
MANILA Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar on Friday dared human rights group Karapatan to investigate the execution of three missing persons in Kitaotao, Bukidnon after their bodies were exhumed on Thursday.
Andanar, Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) representative under the Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security (CORDS), said the supposed watchdog of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the Philippines should prove that it is not linked to terrorist group New People’s Army (NPA) - armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - which abducted the three victims in 2017.
“Clearly, this proves that the NPA is carrying out extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. As the Cabinet officer for Region 10, I condemn this terrorist act and all their other atrocities against civilians, especially Indigenous Peoples,” Andanar said.
“If Karapatan is really a human rights watchdog of the Philippines and a defender of International Humanitarian Law, they should investigate this case and convince us that they are not connected with the NPA as they claim,” he added.
Philippine Army’s 89th Infantry Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Silas Trasmontero, 10th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., and 1003rd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Nolasco Mempin led the exhumation of the bodies on Thursday.
Authorities said the bodies were missing since August 2017 after they were taken by NPA members while passing a road blockade in Sitio Nabunturan, Barangay Digonga,
Kitaotao, Bukidnon. “The execution that they carried out is a clear violation of IHL. They killed non-combatants. If they would claim that those cadavers were captives, then the more that they are liable for IHL violation, punishable under RA 9851. Captives are supposed to be taken care of. If they are sick and wounded, they should be sent to health services provider,” said Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade. “We don’t know how they executed them, autopsy would show later how. But you can imagine how ISIS terrorists execute people, there is a certain similarity. So the NPAs are really terrorists, worthy of public condemnation,” he added. The Presidential Communications Operations Office Chief meanwhile said the government will continue to push for stronger civilian anti-insurgency efforts on top of law enforcement operations. “Through CORDS and the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict), we renew our commitment to promote the establishment of durable peace and development while empowering communities in the priority focus areas such as Mindanao,” he said. “Through peacebuilding and reconciliation, socio-economic transformation, good governance, and institution building, we can end this conflict,” Andanar said. An offshoot of the NTFELCAC that was created by President Rodrigo R. Duterte through Executive Order No, 70, CORDS takes a whole-of-nation approach to address the issues of insurgency in the country. The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PCOO