CHR-Negros Oriental clears Army, eyes rebels as perpetrators
Juancho R. Gallarde, Judy Flores Partlow (The Freeman) - August 13, 2015 - 10:00am

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines  — The Commission on Human Rights-Negros Oriental the other day exonerated the soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion from the accusation that they killed a couple and then burned the latter’s house at Barangay Tacpao in Negros Oriental on May 24.

CHR-Negros Oriental head Jess Cañete, reported to the Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting Tuesday afternoon said documents found at the crime scene showed the couple, Endric and Rosalie Calago, may have been killed and burned instead by members of the New People’s Army Leonardo Panaligan Command.

Cañete said his presentation of the findings will put to rest the issues surrounding the murder and arson incidents that victimized the Calago couple.

Endric Calago, 47, who was a village councilman, and his wife Rosalie, 43, a health worker, both of Tacpao, were killed by some armed men who also burned them and their house before leaving the scene.

Endric sustained five gunshot wounds, skull fractures and graze wounds, while Rosalie was charred beyond recognition with her extremities missing. She had no gunshot wounds but was reported to have died of suffocation. Police investigators found from the scene 63 pieces of empty shells of bullets from an M-16 rifle.

The family of the victims had accused the military of the crime, and even presented the Calago children in a press conference to recount the details of the incident. Cause-oriented groups, including the Promotion of Church People’s Response, also assailed the troops of the 11th IB of being the perpetrators of the crime.

The CHR official responded and visited the scene and even talked to the Guihulngan City Police for more details surrounding the case. His findings were presented and discussed during the PPOC meeting at the Capitol, where he cleared the military troops of responsibility and even surmised the involvement of the rebels instead.

Among the presented evidences, pointing to the rebels as the possible perpetrators, were the leaflets found at the scene and along the street in Guihulngan City proper that condemned the victims, who were government workers, for involvement in the alleged abuse and exploitation of farmers in Tacpao.

Cañete could only surmise that the Calago couple was punished for acts contrary to the interest of the NPA. He cited some leaflets, written in Ilonggo, found at the scene stating that the couple were “punished by the people’s court” for being traitors to the movement, and that they were “sentenced so that no one else will follow them.”

Cañete said the statements were manifestations of condemnations to politicians who abused and exploited the farmers of Tacpao and failed to address their welfare, as well as disliked the concept of peace and development brought about by the military, as supported by the Calago couple.

The manner of the crime committed portrayed a “personalized” hatred, condemnation, and intense indignation against the victims.

Cañete’s report will now form part of the report submitted to the CHR’s regional and central office, as well as to the United Nations Special Committee to erase impressions made by cause-oriented groups that the brutal act was perpetrated by the military.

However, Cañete made it clear he could not stop cause-oriented groups from making statements contrary to the findings of the CHR. Unless the NPA will issue a disclaimer that will necessitate another investigation, the findings will stay, he added. (FREEMAN)

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