(Photo Courtesy: http://www.pna.gov.ph)

The Commission on Human Rights on Sunday condemned the “disproportionate” and “brutal” killings of indigenous people (IP) perpetrated by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Surigao del Sur early this month.

CHR Spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline de Guia expressed heartfelt condolence to the victims who were killed by NPA rebels in separate incidents from October 3 to 7.

“The Commission on Human Rights strongly denounces the recent spate of violence and attacks allegedly done by the New People’s Army,” de Guia said in a statement.

De Guia said the hostilities happening amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic have worsened the insecurity, fear and vulnerability that conflict-ridden communities are already experiencing.

“No ideology can justify these senseless violations on the right to life,” she said, adding that the killings are a violation of the international humanitarian law.

She also explained that the recurrence of violence only further imperils the people in vulnerable communities, reiterating the CHR’s plea to pursue peaceful ways to resolving conflict.

“We reiterate our plea to pursue peaceful ways to address long-standing issues for recovery and healing to begin,” she said.

De Guia described as “particularly gruesome” the killing of IP soldier, Pfc. Ariel Guinsod Maca, a member of the 36th Infantry Battalion and a Manobo, in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur last October 3.

She said Maca “sustained several gunshots, and bore torture marks including severely flattened face and his plucked out eyes.”

Facebook user named Ka Sandara Sidlakan, who identified herself as the spokesperson of the NPA-Surigao del Sur, claimed that it was them who killed Maca, according to de Guia.

A day later, IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Lianga town, Hawudon Jumar  Bucales was killed by alleged NPA members in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on October 4.

Similarly, five persons, which include a policeman and two teachers were hurt in an ambush attack by alleged members of the NPA in Pinabacdao, Samar last October 7.

De Guia, meanwhile, said the CHR’s regional offices will launch an investigation into the spate of IP killings.

“CHR Region Caraga and Region 8 shall probe these cases to ensure justice for the victims and bring the perpetrators to account,” she said.

The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines. 

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