Human rights groups accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines of desecrating the remains of the eight New People’s Army (NPA) members killed in a firefight in Balayan, Batangas last Sunday.
In a series of alerts, Karapatan-Southern Tagalog and Tanggol Batangan said the faces of some of the casualties could no longer be identified by family members at a funeral parlor.
“A grieving mother, in between sobs, identified her daughter only by her distinct stitch marks from a previous caesarean delivery. Half of her daughter’s face was broken as if smashed and banged,” Karapatan said.
The groups also accused the AFP and the Philippine National Police of violating International Humanitarian Law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines by not allowing the corpses to be put inside freezers or embalmed.
They said the corpses already started to rot as these were made to lie on the floor of Romy’s Funeral Parlor for two days.
The groups said the government troopers did not only violate the IHL but the Department of Health’s sanitary protocols.
“Kitang kita sa mga labi ng biktima ang mga bakas ng pambababoy, na hindi gagawin ng sinuman na may makataong pag-iisip,” Karapatan said.
(Signs of desecration are clear, an act that will not be committed by someone humane.)
The eight still unidentified NPA members were slain after soldiers from the 59th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, augmented by Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force troopers, attacked their encampment last December 17.
A government trooper, reportedly the commanding officer of a light reaction company of the Philippine Army, was also killed in the firefight, Kodao sources said.
Lt. Col. Hector Estolas, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, said three other army troopers were wounded in the clash, The Manila Times reported.
Karapatan and Tanggol Batangan also accused the military and police for harassing family members and paralegals who tried to recover the corpses from the funeral parlor.
The wake of one of the casualties was also visited by the military to interrogate the family Karapatan said was an act of intimidation.
The groups said some of the NPA corpses are schedules for autopsy by experts. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)