By BicolToday.com News Team
IROSIN, Sorsogon, 22July2015 – “Our sons were shot on the heads while already captured and handcuffed.”
These were decried over before a human rights probe team by the parents and family members of alleged three (3) young rebels who were gunned down by Army soldiers in an encounter Thursday, July 16 in Irosin, Sorsogon.
Killed were Renato Enriola, Michael Sambajon, and Erwin Gracilla.
According to the victims’ relatives, Enriola, Sambajon and Gracilla were arrested by Army soldiers.
The three were handcuffed, but they were all shot on the heads.
The 3 victims were unarmed.
Photos taken of the lifeless bodies showed that they were all lying face down, their backs up, and there were no signs of confrontational or frontal injuries.
This was confirmed by Enriola’s family who said he was visiting his siblings in Barangay Bacolod, Irosin since he is a resident of the barangay.
The three suspected rebels were shot closely on their heads, a family member also insisted.
Army report doubted
According to an earlier Army report, a statement released by 903rd Infantry Brigade Philippine Army, Capt. Clint P. Antipala – Brigade Public Affairs Officer said “that three members of the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) of the New People’s Army were killed while two soldiers were wounded in an encounter in Sorsogon and another soldier was killed in an encounter in Masbate.”
“In Brgy Bacolod, Irosin, Sorsogon, on 11:30 a.m., a squad of Bayanihan Team of 31st Infantry Batallion was conducting house to house dialogues when fired-upon by ten Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) members of the New People’s Army. Said troops returned fire that resulted to the killing of three SPARU members,” Antipala said.
Antipala added, three pistols and one hand grenade were also recovered from the encounter site. Pursuit operation was also conducted against the fleeing SPARU. PNP SOCO was also in the encounter site for the investigation. The two wounded soldiers were immediately evacuated to the nearest hospital and are now on stable condition.”
Cry for Justice, rub-out victims
Families of the 3 victims in the alleged rub-out are now seeking justice.
They are seeking help from the Commission on Human Rights and other independent human rights investigating bodies.
The families believe the three were captured alive by soldiers, then shot dead.
Now, the families are seeking for an investigation to give them a clearer view on what had really happened.
According to human rights group, Karapatan, which conducted a separate probe, the findings are conclusive on “gross violation of human rights” on internationally observed international humanitarian law and respect for human rights in areas of internal conflict.
According to a human rights watcher, “if they are indeed rebels, and had surrendered or captured and already handcuffed, they are considered ‘hors d’combat’, meaning they are “out of combat” , or they had ceased to fight, or incapable to fight.”
Army silent over Irosin rub-out
On the other hand, military officials in Sorsogon cannot be reached for comment on the alleged ‘rub-out’ of the 3 suspected NPA rebels.
Observers believe the Army in Sorsogon shall stick to their official report and would not welcome any probe by any investigating human rights body that may open them up into public scrutiny.
Victim Enriola, marked man as ex-rebel
According to partial probe report, victim Enriola was detained at the BJMP Sorsogon City District jail for almost 4 years for various charges such as rebellion, murder and illegal possession of firearms, but all cases were dropped and dismissed by the court.
Enriola was released from prison last May 2015.
Barely two months enjoying as a freeman, he was shot dead together with his two companions.
A source said, the military was already eyeing him as “target”.
Their deaths were recognized by the underground NDF-Bikol as “revolutionary martyrs in the struggle.”
In a statement released by NDF-Bicol, Maria Roja Banua, spokesperson said “iginagawad ng NDF-Bicol ang pinakamataas na parangal para kina Ka Nono, Ka Russel at Ka JR na namartir sa isang labanan kahapon ng alas onse sa Brgy. Bacolod, Irosin, Sorsogon. Namatay ang mga kasama sa pag-ambag ng kanilang buhay at panahon upang isulong ang mga pambansa at demokratikong mithiin ng mamamayang inaapi’t pinagsasamantalahan.”
Whether the three were armed combatants during the Irosin incident or not, object of military operation as “legitimate targets”, gross violations on human rights and international humanitarian probably would have been committed if the 3 victims were shot while already held captive or surrendered.
Enemies taken prisoners in conflict-areas, or prisoners-of-war (POW) must be treated humanely, accorded medical treatment, food, water, and shelter and adequate protection from the elements.
The acts of killing enemies already captured and held captive may calibrate the internal-conflict to new levels of barbaric hostility and aggression, no longer tolerated by the civilized world and modern societies.
Human rights watchers have their own valuable roles in keeping track over the volatile situations in internal conflict areas. They have important roles to fulfill. [BicolToday.com]