Rights advocates slam beheading of farmer in Negros Occidental
ILOILO CITY — Human rights advocates and groups have deplored the killing and alleged beheading of a farmer in Negros Occidental following an armed clash between government troops and communist rebels.
But a military official refuted the allegations accusing the groups of sowing “misleading” information.
The remains of Bernardo Guillen, 50, was found by his relatives and village officials in Barangay Tanan-awan in Kabankalan City on September 26, nine days after he went missing on September 17, according to Clarizza Singson, secretary-general of Karapatan-Negros Island.
Singson said in a statement that Guillen’s decomposing body with the head severed was found in a ravine near the site of an encounter between soldiers and suspected New People’s Army rebels.
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) earlier said soldiers clashed with around 12 NPA rebels at Sitio Amian in Tan-awan. The firefight lasted for 25 minutes with no reported casualties.
The soldiers reported having recovered firearms and other belongings left behind by the rebels, including an M-16 rifle and a .45-caliber pistol.
Citing an account of a brother of Guillen, Singson said Guillen was taken by soldiers after the clash and was not seen until he was found dead.
“We call on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for an independent and thorough investigation in the said killing. We also challenge the local government to address this senseless killing and gross human rights violations happening in the communities of farmers victimized by intensified military operations,” Singson said.
Maj. Cenon Pancito III, 3ID spokesperson, belied Singson’s statement calling it “misleading”.
“Our troops under the 11th Infantry Battalion even helped recover the remains after civilians sought our help. We preserved the site and the cadaver was intact and not beheaded contrary to what Karapatan is saying,” Pancito told the INQUIRER in a telephone interview.
He also refuted that soldiers took Guillen from his house.
“He went near the encounter site during the firefight, according to his family,” he said.
Pancito said they could not determine the cause of death of Guillen because the body was already in an advanced state of decomposition and the family refused to have it subjected to an autopsy.
“He could have been hit during the encounter or fell into the ravine,” he said.
Lawyer Jonnie Dabuco, CHR Western Visayas officer-in-charge, said their office was verifying the reports and statements and would conduct an investigation.
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