DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army said the body of its member who was killed in Magpet town, North Cotabato was “severely mutilated” citing accounts of the residents.
In a statement released on Thursday, July 7, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA Southern Mindanao Operations Command said the body of Noel Gulmatico, aka Ka Jepoi, “was severely mutilated when found by the masses in the area.”
“His eyes gouged out of their sockets, tongue severed from his mouth, slash wounds riddled his neck and the back of his head was smashed by some hard object,” Sanchez said.
“The masses believe that Ka Jepoi was still alive when the fascist enemy captured him, was consequently subjected to inhuman torture, and died due to the mutilation,” he said.
He said the NPAs and government troops from the 39th IB and the Bagani Mansandong led by a certain Johnny “Iring” Curbala had an encounter in Sitio Buaybuay, Barangay Basak, Magpet town.
This was contrary to the Army’s account that Gulmatico died due to a gun shot on his “left temple which exited his right chin.”
Captain Danny Boy Tapang, spokesperson of the 39th Infantry Battalion, said that the eyes of Gulmatico could have been affected by the type of bullet used by the soldiers.
Tapang told Davao Today in a phone interview on Thursday, July 7, that the “shock wave” from the bullet that hit Gulmatico caused his eyes to pop out.
“The Scene of the Crime Operatives explained to us that the shock wave from the bullet caused it,” he said.
Tapang said they used Remington R4 carbines with bullets different from the ordinary M16.
He said “only one bullet” hit Gulmatico.
“The SOCO said there is a possibility that after exiting his chin, the same bullet hit his chest,” Tapang said.
Tapang said Gulmatico was killed in a “legitimate encounter” with only regular soldiers participating in the operation.
Family seeks justice
However, the family of Gulmatico is not convinced with the Army’s explanation.
“Of course they will deny it, but there are witnesses who saw that our brother did not die from a bullet,” said “Jenny”, Gulmatico’s sister, told Davao Today in a phone interview on Wednesday, July 6.
“Grabe na man pud na nga highpower ang armas nila, laslason iyang bibig. Bisan mubo lang atong gieskwelahan mam, kabalo ta kung armas nga igo siguro bungkag ang nawong. Kay walay tatsa iyang ilong, walay tatsa iyang bibig… Kung armas, bungkag gyud siya (What kind of high powered firearm do they have that can cut his tongue? We might be less educated, but we know that if he was hit by a shot from the firearms, his face should have been shattered. But his nose, mouth were intact ),” she said.
She said they are still discussing whether they will submit the body for autopsy. Gulmatico is set to be buried on Sunday, July 10.
She said if it is true that their brother was taken alive, the soldier should follow the protocols of war.
“He should not be killed, he should have been tried in court,” Jenny said.
Sanchez called the act “heinous” and said “the AFP is guilty of violating the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 7 of the Additional Protocol of Geneva Conventions Protocol II, and Article 3.1.a of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, all of which prohibit the torture and mutilation of wounded or fallen combatants.”
Sanchez said the government troops “have not shown any consideration, much less respect, to heed the people’s clamor for the resumption of the peace negotiations.”
“Clearly, the goodwill and peace overtures being set in motion by the NDFP and the Duterte government are infuriating the imperialist US, its local reactionary puppets and the warmongering dogs in the reactionary armed forces,” Sanchez said.
The 10th Infantry Division’s Board of Inquiry is looking into the allegations.
Major Ezra Balagtey, Public Information Officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command said they are waiting for the results of the investigation. He said the Army is strict in the adherence to the International Humanitarian Law. (davaotoday.com)