CHR to probe allegations Aetas forced by soldiers to eat human feces
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights has vowed to investigate claims that Aetas suspected of being in cahoots with communist rebels were forced by the military to eat human feces.
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said this after an activist group advocating indigenous people (IP) rights said that three individuals from San Marcelino in Zambales were tortured and detained by members of the Philippine Army (PA) 7th Infantry Division (7ID)
The allegations were made by the Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination (Sandugo), who also said that the area where Aetas used to live was bombed to pave the way for mining operations.
“The [CHR] is concerned by the recent allegations made against the Philippine Army’s 7ID on the cruel and degrading treatment of some members of the Aeta community in San Marcelino, Zambales,” De Guia said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Commission for its part, in conjunction with the ongoing military investigation, will be conducting its own separate investigation through its regional office to ensure impartiality and attain the truth in these allegations,” she added.
On Monday, Sandugo shared a Facebook post saying that 659 Aeta families have already fled the area in Sitio Lumibao after the military bombed it. After that, the group called on CHR to probe the issue.
“Reports reveal that the 7th ID’s bombardment of the IP community is meant to drive away the Aetas and pave way for mining explorations of Dizon Copper-Silver Mines, Inc. The Aeta residents oppose this project because they know it will destroy the environment, as well as their ancestral lands,” Sandugo said.
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‘No bombing happened’
Sandugo’s accusations, however, were denied by 7ID Public Affairs Office Chief Major Amado Gutierrez, who also maintained that no bombing happened and what occurred last August 21 was a skirmish between government troops and the communist armed force New People’s Army (NPA).
Gutierrez also said that they took care of the Aetas and were checked by a doctor.
De Guia said that they welcome Gutierrez’s statements, noting that they have reminded government troops to always consider human rights during operations.
“The Commission notes that the 7ID Public Affairs Office Chief Major Amado Gutierrez in his statement espoused the primacy of human rights in military operations and denied the occurrence of maltreatment especially since the Commission has always reminded members of the armed forces to adhere to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law,” De Guia said.
“We welcome the statement of Major Gutierrez and the ongoing investigation currently being conducted by the military to uncover the truth to these allegations,” she added. [ac]
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