CHR condemns killing of off-duty soldiers in Cotabato
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the ambush of two off-duty soldiers by gunmen aboard a motorcycle in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said that the attack on Private First Class Meljay Bernal and Corporal Earl Tabaranza of the Philippine Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion, supposedly by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), is a “direct violation” of the International Humanitarian Law.
De Guia said CHR would conduct its own investigation.
“The arbitrary attack against soldiers who were not engaged in combat is a direct violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Belligerent armed groups are equally expected to comply with principles of IHL and should be held accountable when such human rights abuses are committed,” De Guia said.
“The Commission condemns this atrocity of rogue elements and calls for justice for the fallen soldier. On its part, the CHR will conduct its own probe of the incident,” she added.
Reports on Thursday said on Tabaranza and Bernal, both wearing civilian clothes, were onboard a motorcycle and were moving towards the Midsayap town proper when the gunmen on a separate motorbike opened fire.
The incident happened along the national highway of Barangay Central Glad.
De Guia said that the CHR is urging the government to continue negotiating with such armed groups to avoid incidents like this from happening again.
“The decades-long conflict in Mindanao demands a more holistic and long-term solution to end this vicious cycle of violence,” she explained.
“We appeal to the government to continue with peace negotiations with armed opposition groups to sit down and engage in meaningful dialogues where both parties can fully express their sentiments and arrive at an agreement to achieve sustainable peace,” she added.
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