An independent probe on civilian deaths in Brgy. Napo, Inabanga, Bohol, should be held immediately amidst howls of protest from their relatives and neighbors denying military claims that elderly couple Crisanta and Constancio Petalco were members of the Abu Sayyaf bandits whom the military attacked in the area on April 11, 2017. Both in their 70s, the couple were said to be retrieving their livestock for safety from the firefight when they were shot dead in front of their house.
It is grossly irresponsible and downright immoral for the military to claim that all who did not evacuate the area during the raid were automatically enemies. This fascist practice harks back to the dark days of martial law when communities outside military hamlets were tagged wholesale as rebel bases. This myopic mindset does not only spawn human rights abuses, but also erodes the foundation of our cherished democratic principles.
Yet, the military in Bohol is known for tagging civilians as armed nemesis to justify abuses. The soldiers of the 47th Infantry Battalion in particular are fond of labeling peasant activists as rebel supporters as precursor to harassment and other attacks.
It is sad that the local government of Bohol was quick to expunge the military raid of any irregularity, and even in immediately parroting military claims that no civilian perished in the operation.
Thus, we renew out call for an independent probe on civilian deaths during that operation. We also demand government transparency and cooperation in the conduct of an in-depth investigation.###