The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has denounced the alleged military killing of three members of the Lumad-Manobo indigenous people (IP), including a 12-year-old student, in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last June 15.
“Our CHR Regional Office in Caraga Administrative Region will dispatch an investigation team to look into the violent death of these indigenous peoples allegedly perpetrated by the military,” CHR Spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.
“The CHR extends our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims” – Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, and 12-year-old angel Rivas, De Guia said.
The CHR is urging the government to also “shed light” on the incident and conduct its own investigation to give justice to the victims, she said.
In published reports, Karapatan Alliance – a human rights advocacy group – said that Angel was a grade six student of the Lumad School Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS), while Willy and Lenie were both members of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod.
Karapatan claimed that members of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army opened fire at them around 1 p.m. of June 15 while they were harvesting abaca.
On the other hand, the military said that the victims fired at them and even detonated a bomb, prompting them to fight back.
The CHR said there were even allegations that female victims were sexually assaulted by the military. It said that under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the distinction between civilians and combatants must be observed at all times.
“More so, IHL provides protection for children as persons not taking part in hostilities and as persons who are particularly vulnerable,” De Guia stressed.