3 soldiers in rape of ‘lumad’ face court-martial
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The military in Southern Mindanao region said it found enough reasons to place the three Army soldiers tagged in the rape of a 14-year-old “lumad” girl from Davao del Norte under court-martial.
Lt. Col. Francis Sibal, chief of the civil-military operations office of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told reporters here the court-martial proceedings would be conducted even if criminal charges had already been filed against them in a civilian court.
“The Philippine National Police has already filed additional charges against the three soldiers,” said Sibal, who declined to disclose the identities of the suspects.
Restricted to camp
He said all three soldiers had been restricted to camp and that the military court could start hearing the charges against them any time.
Early this month, the Southern Mindanao Police said based on investigation it had conducted, the rape incident occurred in a village in Talaingod.
The victim was among some 700 Manobo villagers, who had fled to the Haran House, a facility operated by the United Church of Christ of the Philippines here early this year, due to alleged abuses committed by soldiers and the paramilitary group Alamara.
Senior Supt. Aaron Aquino, deputy chief for regional police operations, earlier told reporters the incident did take place and that three suspects, all members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, had been identified.
He did not disclose the full names of the suspects and identified two of them only as a Galot and a Daniel.
Aquino said the parents of the victim filed rape charges against another soldier-suspect on Aug. 24 but refused to sue Galot and Daniel.
Instead of suing the two other military men, he said the girl’s parents entered into a settlement agreement with them.
“It came out that the two suspects alias ‘Galot’ and ‘Daniel’ were all soldiers, however, (charges) were not filed against the two suspects because of the agreement made by the two parties,” he said, adding that the suspects paid the parents P63,000 as part of the agreement.
Aquino said despite the settlement, the police decided to pursue charges against the two remaining soldier-suspects.
“The police will serve as the complainant,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, 10th Infantry Division commander, said the military also conducted its own investigation of the accusation and among the bases used for the approval of the court-martial proceedings were the information given by the Talaingod social welfare officer and some affidavits.
The military investigators, Valencia said, also found other details that would support the filing of charges against the three soldiers, who professed innocence, before the military tribunal.
All three, he said, had been charged with violation of the 97th Article of War.
The provision says that “all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, and all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service shall be taken cognizance of by a general or special or summary court-martial according to the nature and degree of the offense and punished at the discretion of such court.” Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao