House urged to condemn, investigate killings of 3 Lumads in Surigao del Sur
By Gaea Katreena Cabico / The Philippine Star
MANILA — The Makabayan bloc is calling on the House of Representatives to condemn the killing of three members of a Manobo community, one of them a 12-year-old girl, in Surigao del Sur last week and to launch an investigation into what it called a brutal massacre by soldiers.
According to rights group Karapatan, Willy Rodriguez, Leni Rivas and 12-year-old Angel Rivas were part of a group whom troops from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army opened fire on. They were shot while on the way to the town center of Lianga after harvesting abaca hemp.
"It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people, to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations, especially in this time of crisis," members of the Makabayan bloc, which has six seats at the House, said.
The lawmakers, who filed House Resolution 1903 last week, said the House "must bring perpetrators to account to put a stop to the killings and rights violations against its people," they added.
An investigation at the House, which is dominated by a supermajority allied with the Duterte administration, is unlikely.
Karapatan also said those who were killed were presented as members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Family members who identified the bodies claimed the remains were desecrated and the female victims’ genitals bore signs of possible sexual assault.
The lawmakers said the desecration of their remains are gross violations of the International Humanitarian Law and the agreement signed by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Commission on Human Rights said last week its office in the Caraga region will dispatch an investigation team.