CAGAYAN DE ORO

Army to Karapatan: Probe 'EJK' of state agents

AN OFFICIAL of the Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade (403IB) said the killing of three persons whose bodies were exhumed in an alleged mass grave in Bukidnon last August deserved the attention of rights group Karapatan, saying it is a human rights violation too.

Brigadier General Edgardo de Leon, 403IB commander, made the statement after Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said that it is not within their mandate to investigate these killings.

"Ms. Palabay said that they only investigate atrocities allegedly committed by the military, she therefore concludes that the Kitaotao killings were not perpetrated by the military. Does that mean she had an idea who their killers were? Why was she quick in concluding, she made an earlier investigation? Maybe she could reveal in public what made her conclude that the killings were not perpetrated by state forces, thus beyond Karapatan's 'mandate.' By the way, who gave Karapatan that 'limited and selective mandate'?" De Leon said.

"The victims were killed in cold blood. Was there no violation of rights in that specific killing which merits an investigation by a rights group like Karapatan? The PNP (Philippine National Police) is doing an investigation. What I am asking is a parallel investigation by Karapatan," he added.

De Leon also called the United Nations Human Rights Council to "check Palabay's statement."

Palabay earned the ire of the military when she rebuffed De Leon's challenge to probe alleged "extrajudicial killings" against state agents made by the New People's Army in Bukidnon.

Karapatan declined the challenge, saying the group's mandate is to investigate abuses carried out by state security forces.

On August 22, bodies of retired police officer Joel Rey Galendez, Army Sergeant Reynante España, and tribal leader Dionisio Havana were recovered in Barangay Digongan in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.


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