House probe sought on child’s death after military-NPA clash in Batangas
MANILA, Philippines — A group of lawmakers has asked a House of Representatives panel to probe the death of a nine-year-old girl after a clash between Philippine Army (PA) troopers and communist rebels in Taysan town of Batangas.
Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc on Monday filed House Resolution No. 125, urging the House committee on human rights to investigate the incident between soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels last July 19, where the girl identified as Kyllene Casao was killed.
Police reports stated that a stray bullet hit the victim while she was herding goats near the clash site. When the girl was hit, NPA rebels were supposedly retreating after a three-minute firefight with Army troopers.
However, Makabayan bloc members Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. France Castro, and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel claimed PA’s 59th Infantry Battalion has been conducting military operations in Taysan and other nearby Batangas and Quezon province towns.
According to the lawmakers, the members of the 59th Infantry Battalion allegedly harassed residents of Taysan, subjecting them to supposed threats of facing terror-related charges and indiscriminate shooting.
Also, Makabayan claimed that military personnel in civilian clothing harassed the victim’s relatives and human rights workers who checked on the family at the victim’s burial.
“Whereas, residents have endured harassment from the 59th Infantry Battalion including indiscriminate shooting, threats of terror charges, physical injury, and even murders,” Makabayan said.
“Whereas, on July 28, after Kyllene’s burial, the humanitarian team of Mothers and Children for the Protection of Human Rights visited Tatay Benie Casao, Kyllene’s father. There were military personnel in civilian clothing in their family house. There was even a military member who introduced himself as nephew of Tatay Benie. The 59th IB harassed and intimidated the humanitarian team,” they claimed.
AFP has yet to respond to INQUIRER.net’s inquiry about the claims as of posting time.
Makabayan claimed this is not the first time that the 59th Infantry Battalion was involved in human rights abuses, as rights groups Karapatan Southern Tagalog and Tanggol Batangan were supposedly both red-tagged.
They also added that the rights abuses started in Taysan as early as October 2021.
It was not the first time that Makabayan called for a House probe on the military’s operation. In June 2021, former Bayan Muna congressman Carlos Zarate asked a House panel to check allegations that the communist rebels killed by state forces were mere farmers.
Makabayan also asked the House to investigate the killing of three Lumads accused of being members of the NPA.
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