Philippines: Interfaith Mission Slams AFP Over Grecil’s Death

Apr. 17, 2007

National Interfaith Psychosocial First-Aid Mission
Brgy. Kahayag, New Battan, Compostela Valley Province
April 14, 2007


April 16, 2007

Knowing that,

The 1001st Infantry Brigade under 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has hastily charged the victim of its cold blooded killing, Grecil S. Buya, as a child soldier of the New Peoples Army last March 31, 2007;

Army Brig. Gen. Carlos Holganza head of the 1001st Infantry Brigade stand reports from his men that Grecil is a child warrior and was seen by his men that Grecil was carrying a long firearm on one hand. The military firmly concluded that the girl knows how to handle a long firearm. Hence, the military retaliated by firing near the house of Grecil upon seeing her carrying with M-14 rifle and maneuvering.

The military declared that Grecil was a 12 year-old boy, a minor killed during a legitimate operation by elements of the combined forces of the 67th and 28th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Kahayag, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

Knowing further,

The latest victim make up only part of the hundreds of cases of children victims of human rights violations since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came into power in 2001. To date, the death toll of children killed by the military during operations has reached 54 cases;

That in Southern Mindanao, the death of Grecil S. Buya has drawn the attention of various child-focused/child-friendly civil societies, human rights groups, religious and international groups to the region.

Believing that,

This grave condition is of immense concern among human rights advocates, here and abroad, and the people seeking for truth and justice;

We cannot help but conclude that these acts are intentional and systematic rather than isolated. These are acts consistent with the AFPs Malacanang-approved counter-insurgency plan known as Oplan Bantay Laya 2. The government chooses to hide behind the distorted concept of child soldiers against the children they have victimized. Instead of protecting children, this concept exposes children all the more to violence and makes them vulnerable targets of human rights violations.

Believing further,

That several organizations here in the country have also expressed disappointment on the failure of the Arroyo regime to act upon the cases of political killings. The creation of a commission to investigate the series of political killings and other human rights violations in the country is nothing but a resuscitation of a dying reputation over the grim human rights situation in the country;

For a government who is signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and boasts of laws and policies that promotes the best interest of the child, this is utter hypocrisy. Pres. Arroyo, a woman and a mother, continues to ignore the issue of blatant human rights violations and instead chose to heap praises on military officials who are accused as perpetrators.

Invoking therefore,

That as duty bearer for the advancement of childrens rights, a National Interfaith Psychosocial First Aid Mission was then held to investigate the claims of the military regarding the killing of Grecil Buya, who was labeled Child Soldier to escape accountability.

The mission held on April 14, 2007 was spearheaded by KABIBA Alliance for Childrens Concerns in Mindanao, Childrens Rehabilitation Center and SALINLAHI Foundation for Childrens Concerns. It was participated by 58 human rights and peace advocates.

The Brothers of Sacred Heart Save the Young, Father Dominico Maci Center, Kabataan Party, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, RECAP Foundation, Kaliwat Theater Collective, Sagop Palad Foundation, Student Volunteers from Holy Cross of Davao College and University of Southeastern Philippines and Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Field Office XI provided the psychosocial therapy for traumatized children in the community.

The Urban Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc. conducted the Medical Mission and the Department of Health Regional Office XI and Center for Overseas Workers Davao Inc. provided the medicines.

Human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights, Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., Promotion of Church Peoples Response and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Southern Mindanao District Conference procured the available documents that belies the undaunted claim of the military.

Now herein, after the entire conduct of the mission, aided by signed affidavits, testimonies and interviews from witnesses, family and relatives of the victims and the survivors of the incidents, ocular visits and by documents procured from the authorities and agencies involved of the reported cases, we present the following:

o Barangay Certification issued last April 11, 2007 proving that the family of Grecil S. Buya is a bonafide resident of Purok 6, Brgy. Kahayag, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province with good record. Adding further, the Community Tax Certification (CTC) No. CCI2006 01596756 for Gregorio Y. Galacio and CTC No. CCI2006 01596755 for Virginia Pacita S. Buya proved likewise.

o Certificate of Live Birth proved that Grecil S. Buya was born on October 13, 1997. She was nine (9) years old, at the time of her death. She was the eldest daughter of Virginia Saligumba Buya and Gregorio Y. Galacio, who are not yet legally married until this writing. Grecil was born in Purok 6, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province.

o Department of Education (DepEd) Form 138-E for School Year 2006-2007 of Grecil S. Buya proved that she finished her Grade 2 at the Simsimen Elementary School with flying colors and two awards for most neat and most industrious under the tutelage of Ms. Arlyn B. Balolong.

o Certificate of Death shows that the cause of death of Grecil is a gun shot wound (GSW) in her head signed by Dr. Rene D. Locsin, the Municipal Health Officer of New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province.

o Indiscriminate Firing, during the actual ocular inspection, the mission found heavy traces of indiscriminate firing towards the Buya-Galacio house. This indicate that the house was being subjected to primary target of attacked by the elements of the AFP.

o The remains of Grecil were found three (3) meters away from their house.

o Testimonies, the resident who fled the area attested that the strings of gun shots came first from the location where the platoon size members of 67th Infantry Battalion positioned and was directed to Buya-Galacio residence. Further, the drawings of the children from the affected areas of Purok 3, 5, 6 and 7 in Brgy. Kahayag, who undergone psychosocial therapy manifests the whole incident that the volume of gunfire came first from the military.

o The village children, especially Grecils younger sisters and brother, were deeply traumatized by the incident. Barangay Capt. Eulogio Almasa attested that there was no rifle and ammunitions seen in Grecils remains. Almasa, who is also the god father of the victim, vouched to the fact that the girl or any members of the family are not communist rebels.

o Desecration of the Remains, The father of the victim, Gregorio Y. Galacio attested that the dead body of Grecil was flaunted in front of the New Bataan Police Station under the scorching heat of the sun for several hours after the incident.

o Harassment/Threat/Intimidation, Gregorio was threatened by the 28th IB operatives. According to Gregorio, that the military said if the family will file charges/complaints against the military they will also file rebellion case against him. The intense harassment of the family started when they spoke to the public about real status of Grecil. As a result, they forcibly evacuated their house to look for safer place to live-in.

o Destruction and Divestment of Properties, there were four households ransacked by the military and private properties were taken including five thousand (P5, 000.00) cash, 2 liters of soft drinks, 20 packs of biscuits, 1 pack of candy and others.

o The presence of gun powder burns on the right side of the back of Grecils head was observed by the family.

Thus, the Mission has come up with the following recommendations:

1. The body of Grecil S. Buya should immediately undergo autopsy examination.

2. The Arroyo government should implement the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) since the brutal murder of Grecil is a concrete violation of the following:

* Article 38, Section 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that the State shall also ensure the protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflict;

Geneva Protocols 1 and 2 mandating parties of conflict to distinguish civilians and combatants; and
Article 10, Section 22a of the Republic Act 7610 which declares that the children shall not be the object of attack, shall be entitled to special respect and must be protected against any form of indecent assault;
* Part III Article 2 Section 24 which provides the right of the children to protection and care against all forms of oppression and exploitation.
* The AFPs irresponsible practice of using Grecil for war propaganda purposes by misrepresenting her as an NPA child soldier is also a violation of childrens rights

3. Arroyo government should implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) to protect the rights of civilians and non-combatants. Given that the GRP as signatory party to the CARHRIHL and international humanitarian laws such as the Geneva Convention

4. The Local Government Units and all government agencies including the Commission on Human Rights must assume responsibility over the reported cases of human rights violations. As such, they must conduct a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation on Grecil S. Buyas killing in the course of the massive and intensified military operations.

5. The Local Government Officials as well as the concerned agencies must consider the accounts of the residents and the victims of the Human Rights Violations perpetrated by the elements of the State in their investigation to be able to come up with a sound and just findings.

6. The perpetrators of the human rights violations must be held accountable and face court trial.

7. The victims and survivors of harassments must be indemnified and must be given assistance to restore them to their normal lives. Restitution and rehabilitation, especially for the women, children and the elderly, the sick and the disabled would certainly help these people get on with their normal lives again.

8. Immediately pull out all military troops and military installations in New Bataan and other neighboring areas in Compostela Valley Province to avoid aggravating the trauma of the residents. By doing this, the residents will have time to ease their fears and help them get on with their lives again.

9. Psychological rehabilitation and therapy of Buya-Galacio couples children.

10. We challenge the Arroyo government to show its sincerity in upholding children and human rights by dropping all rebellion charges against children and minors. We hold it accountable for the destruction of these childrens lives and future.

11. We urge child rights advocates, including politicians running for office, to condemn this brutal act and join us in our actions on the case. We will support the family in their pursuit for justice as they file a case in a proper regional trial court. Likewise, we will also file a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights and the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the CAHRIHL and present the case to the Geneva Committee on the Rights of the Child and to Mr. Philip Alston, the UN Rapporteur for Extra Judicial Killing.

12. We urge all decent and peace-loving Filipino family to support our call for JUSTICE FOR GRECIL and Justice for all the Filipino Children who are deceitfully branded as child soldiers.

13. The mission reiterates that we will not tolerate the rampant violation of childrens rights, especially by the very institutions that vow to protect them. Let us instead be instruments in building a just and peaceful future for our children.

****** INBOX is an archive of press releases, statements, announcements, letters to the editors, and manifestos sent to Davao Today for publication. Please email your materials to Davao Today reserves the right to edit or refuse material for publication. *****

comments powered by Disqus