CHR to investigate deaths of 3 lumad in Surigao del Sur
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will investigate the deaths of three reported Lumad-Manobo tribe members, including a 12-year-old student, in Surigao del Sur.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said Friday that the commission “denounces” the killing of the three individuals. The military claimed they were members of the communist New People’s Army who clashed with the government forces last June 15.
“Our CHR Regional Office in Caraga will dispatch an investigation team to look into the violent death of these indigenous peoples allegedly perpetrated by the military,” de Guia said in a statement.
Under the international humanitarian law (IHL), De Guia said that “the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants must be observed at all times.”
IHL protects children as well as noncombatants and especially vulnerable people, she said.
“It also concerning that there are allegations that female victims were sexually assaulted as well,” De Guia added.
“While we wait for the results of the independent probe, the Commission urges the government to shed light on these deaths and conduct its own investigation to bring justice to the death of Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas,” said the CHR official.
According to Maj. Rodulfo Cordero, Army 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, a team of Special Forces soldiers of the Philippine Army fought with communist rebels at the village of Diatagan, Lianga town, leading to the deaths of the three individuals.
Rights group Karapatan, however, said that those killed were lumad and had only been tagged as NPA members.
Sofia Vertucio, trainee
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