HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE
Cebu City–The premier human rights umbrella here is demanding the “preventive suspension” of the unit of 19th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army involved in the deaths of the country’s top botanist and two others Monday morning in Kanangga, Leyte, Philippines.
The Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights (KARAPATAN) in Central Visayas called on the AFP Central Command (CENTCOM) to “restrict to barracks” the said 19th IB unit pending administrative investigation.
KARAPATAN also scored CENTCOM for immediately clearing their troops of any liability in public pronouncement since Tuesday even when it has not conducted any investigation yet. The group also lambasted CENTCOM spokesperson Cris Tampus for sweepingly misrepresenting the victims, including slain botanist Leonard Co, of being NPAs in a live TV interview Tuesday afternoon.
“CENTCOM has no moral ascendancy to investigate the culpability of their men since it has already prejudged this case since Day 1. It has already cleared them of any violation by blaming the NPAs who, CENTCOM bragged, were already wiped out from Leyte,” said Dennis Abarrientos, Secretary-General of KARAPATAN-CV.
Abarrientos said there is a need for an independent investigating body to be formed and composed of church, human rights and other concerned sectors “to get to the truth of the incident and allow justice to be served.”
“We cannot allow this incident to pass like the Kanangga Massacre of 2003, when nine persons including 2 children, were killed by the 19th IB on mere suspicion that they were NPAs. Until now, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice for that dastardly act,” Abarrientos concluded.