Gabriela calls for CHR probe of Nasugbu clashes

PROTEST. In this file photo, members and supporters of women rights group Gabriela hold a protest during the International Women's Human Rights Defenders Day on November 29. Photo from Gabriela Facebook page

PROTEST. In this file photo, members and supporters of women rights group Gabriela hold a protest during the International Women's Human Rights Defenders Day on November 29.

Photo from Gabriela Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Women's rights group Gabriela called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct an independent probe surrounding the two separate clashes between suspected members of the rebel New People's Army (NPA) and combined military and police forces on Tuesday evening, November 28.

Gabriela in a statement Sunday, December 3, said the "haphazard handling" of the crime scene investigations shows that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are covering up the truth behind the supposed clash. 

"Such handling casts doubt on the manner and conduct of the operation, especially since the PNP and AFP are notorious in planting and concocting so-called evidence in order to file trumped-up charges against their numerous victims in their counterinsurgency operations," the statement read.

A total of 6 alleged members of NPA were killed in the reported 20-minute gun battle at the Sitio Pinamintasan, in Barangay Aya, Nasugbu. One of them died at the hospital. 

In the clash at Sitio Batulao, 9 alleged NPA members died. 

The two clashes yielded no deaths from the side of the military and police. 

According to Gabriela, "results of the investigation can be instrumental in filing cases of violations of human rights (HR) and international humanitarian law (IHL) against culpable PNP and AFP units." 

The clashes came just before President Rodrigo Duterte instructed military and police on Wednesday, November 28 to shoot any armed NPA member or terrorist they see. The orders are part of his new approach to dealing with communist rebels after he formally terminated peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The NPA rebels, Duterte said, deserve the shoot order.

In its statement, Gabriela is holding the President accountable in the deaths of suspected NPA rebels which they claim violates human rights and international humanitarian law. 

"Through his public shoot-to-kill orders against perceived enemies of the State, he directly provided police, military and paramilitary operations blanket authority to use naked armed attacks against all persons deemed as part of groups opposed to his rule," the group added. 

The women's rights group also slammed the military for revealing the name of former UP student Josephine Lapira without the family's consent and releasing the lifeless photo of Lapira in a Facebook page. (READ: To friends, Jo Lapira was a tiny activist with big dreams

According to them, the photo belies AFP's claim that Lapira was brought to a hospital for a treatment. 

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal manner of their deaths and the desecration of their remains based on first-hand information gathered by our group. All their belongings, even the clothes on their bodies, were taken away by the military and denied their families," the activist group added. – with reports from Raisa Serafica/Rappler.com