QUEZON CITY – Families of victims of human rights violations in Lacub, Abra trooped to Manila to air their grievances against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They were accompanied by several sectoral organizations who supported their cause.
In a picket protest outside the Department of National Defense at Camp Aguinaldo this morning, they condemned the extrajudicial killing of two civilians and the brutal killing, torture, mutilation, and desecration of the remains of members of the New People’s Army.
“The violations committed in the AFP’s military operations on September 4 to 6 in Lacub, Abra are grave war crimes against the people, and the 41st Infantry Battalion should be held accountable for this,” said Hustisya secretary general Cristina Guevarra.
Justice for Salvador, Viste
Hustisya and the victims’ families demanded justice for the killing of Engr. Fidela Salvador and Noel Viste. Salvador was a development worker of the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDis-RDS) while Noel Viste was a local resident of Lacub, Abra. Viste was one among the 24 civilians who volunteered to retrieve the bodies of slain NPA members. He, together with other volunteers, were accosted by the military while withdrawing from the area and used as human shields.
Meanwhile, Salvador at that time was attending to matters of the Cordis-RDS checking on the progress of their work in the area. In a statement of the Salvador family, they said the AFP “weaved lies about who she was, how she was killed and accused that she was an armed NPA rebel” in order to cover-up the murder of Engr. Fidela Salvador.
The AFP’s Northern Luzon Command, in justifying the brazen murder even posted on their social media page claiming that Engr. Salvador was an armed rebel and was killed in a legitimate encounter on the night of September 5, 2014.
The Salvador family’s statement further said, “It is our strong belief that Engr. Delle Salvador was taken alive – mistreated before death as evidenced by the autopsy findings, and unjustly accused as an NPA to cover-up the extrajudicial killing.”
“Salvador and Viste are victims of extrajudicial killings. The awards and promotions tendered by the AFP hierarchy to the soldiers criminally involved in the brutal killings are false and heavily drenched in blood,” added Guevarra.
AFP, violator of IHL
Families of members of the slain NPA members also decried possible violations to the international humanitarian law (IHL) because of the state of their remains which bore signs of torture, mutilation, and desecration.
The family of Recca Noelle Monte, one of the members of the NPA killed in the alleged encounter, demanded justice. They believed she was captured alive and was summarily executed by her captors. She was later found dead, her body bore evidences of desecration.
According to the statement of the family of Monte, the autopsy revealed that Recca had not sustained any gunshot wound. Not a single bullet passed through her body. Her skull resembled that of a crushed egg and her brains were missing. Her legs bore multiple fractures, the bone practically shattered. Her lungs were severely contused. Massive hematoma covered her torso. Blunt massive traumatic injuries were identified to be the cause of her death.
“War, violent and harsh as it already is should not be so cruel and inhumane that the helpless, lifeless body of one’s enemy should be desecrated. We are appalled that our family bears as direct witness to this brutality of the AFP,” the Monte family statement read.
Guevarra said rights and IHL violations in Abra paint the gruesome picture how Oplan Bayanihan is being implemented in communities.
“Oplan Bayanihan is directed against the people. It is peddling lies by saying it is promoting peace when in fact it is killing and maiming civilians and unarmed individuals. It is a dirty counter-insurgency war that is targetting hapless civilians. It should be stopped immediately,” Guevarra said.
Hustisya and the victims’ families are calling for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“The peace talks should resume now and these cases of rights violations should be put to the table. Agreements on the respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian should be recognized and implemented,” said Guevarra.
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) is the first of the four substantive agenda signed by the GPH and the NDFP in 1998, recognizing the basic rights of the people and even those involved in armed conflict.
Hustisya secretary general
Hustisya National Office
2/F #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City 1100 Philippines
Telephone: (02) 434-7486 | (02) 435-4146
E-mail: [email protected]