CHR: Grecil no child soldier but ‘caught in crossfire’
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 May) – Grecil Buya, who was tagged by the
military as a “child soldier of the New People’s Army” when she was
killed in an encounter two months ago, was no child warrior but merely
a victim of a crossfire, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.
The CHR, in its report on the results of its investigation on the
death of the nine-year-old child from New Bataan in Compostela Valley,
said Grecil died “in a crossfire” of a “legitimate encounter.”
CHR regional director Alberto Sipaco announced the result of the
investigation today (Wednesday) during the Regional Peace and Order
Council meeting at the Grand Men Seng Hotel here, some two months
Grecil’s death on March 31.MindaNews has yet to get a copy of the investigation report, which the
CHR first promised to release on April 16.
Grecil just finished Grade 2 when killed during an encounter between
government forces and the NPA mid-morning of March 31. Initial
military reports tagged her as a “child soldier” of the NPA, an
allegation her parents, Virginia Buya and Gregorio Galacio (they are
unmarried, so Grecil carried her mother’s last name), and villagers
deny. The military suspected Galacio as a member of the NPA.
Grecil was hit on the left side of her head; she also sustained a
bullet wound on her right elbow. She was buried at the public cemetery
of New Bataan on April 10.
Last month, human rights groups called for the exhumation of her body
for an autopsy.
On April 19, Sipaco told MindaNews they were not able to deploy
investigators to the area right away because the military reported
there were still ongoing operations there, among the reasons the CHR
investigation was delayed.
CHR sent a three-man team to New Bataan only on April 17, citing lack
of transportation as yet another reason for the delay.
Sipaco said the team sent to New Bataan was led by CHR chief
investigator Emiliano Cajes, who told MindaNews recently that an after
battle report from the military was among the remaining angles of the
probe as of last month.
Cajes cited “uncooperative witnesses” as the hardest problem in the
investigation. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)