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CHR to look into killing of 3 Lumads, including minor, in Surigao del Sur
This photo shows Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas and Angel Rivas, members of the Lumad-Manobo tried who were killed after state forces opened fire on their group last June 15, 2021, according to Karapatan.
Karapatan-Caraga, Release

CHR to look into killing of 3 Lumads, including minor, in Surigao del Sur

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 18, 2021 - 10:52am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights said Friday it will look into the killing of three members of a Manobo community, including a 12-year-old student, in Surigao del Sur.

In a statement, the commission denounced the "violent death of these indigenous peoples allegedly perpetrated by the military." It said its regional office in Caraga will dispatch an investigation team.

"While we wait for the results of the independent probe, the commission urges the government to shed light on these deaths and conduct its own investigation to bring justice to the death of Willy Rodriguez, Leni Rivas, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

According to rights group Karapatan, troops from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army opened fire on them while on the way to the town center of Lianga after harvesting abaca hemp.

The three were killed while three others managed to run to safety.

Karapatan said the three who were killed were presented as members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

De Guia noted that, under international humanitarian law, the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants must be observed at all times. The law also provides protection for children as persons not taking part in hostilities and as persons who are particularly vulnerable during conflicts.

“It is also concerning that there are allegations that female victims were sexually assaulted as well,” she added.

Angel was a Grade 6 student of the Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur, while her sister Lenie and cousin Willy were members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod.

The military and other government agencies have repeatedly accused the Lumad schools, put up to provide education to indigenous peoples' communities in far-flung areas, of links to communist rebels.

The schools, as well as some of their donors and partners, reject the government's claim. 

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