3 farmers tortured, killed by soldiers?


By Joey A. Gabieta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:41:00 10/07/2008

TACLOBAN CITY – A human rights group in Eastern Visayas claimed that soldiers tortured and killed three civilians from a remote village of Borongan City.

Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas identified the fatalities as Jimmy Anday, Chito and Ronald Catubay who were said to be on their way to their farms in Sitio Bagong Barrio, Barangay Pinanag-an, the farthest village of the city, when the incident took place on Sept. 3.

Katungod secretary general Kathrina Castillo said the three were on their way to their farms when they allegedly met a group of soldiers later identified to belong to the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB).

Based on their investigation, the three “bore marks that they were tortured” before they were killed, Castillo said.

“Their hands were tied and their stomachs were sliced,” Castillo said in an e-mail.

Aside from killing the three, their houses were also razed, she said.

But Lt. Col. Alberto Desoyo, commanding officer of the 62nd IB based in Quinapondan, Eastern Samar, denied Castillo’s claim.

On the day of the alleged incident, Desoyo said his men were in the area to conduct “legitimate military operations.”

“There were about 20 to 30 New People’s Army (members) in the area which resulted in an encounter with my men. Based on the bloodstains that we have discovered after the firefight, there were injuries and casualties on the side of the enemies,” Desoyo said in a phone interview.

Rebels

“But definitely, all were rebels and not civilians (as alleged by Katungod),” Desoyo added.

He said the encounter also resulted in the injury of one of his men whom Desoyo could not identify.

Desoyo admitted that the military remained aggressive in its anti-insurgency campaign but insisted that civilians were not its targets.

During her recent visit in the region, President Macapagal-Arroyo again directed the military officials in the region, led by Maj. Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, 8th Infantry Division commanding general, to finish the insurgency before the 2010 deadline.

The President said the insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas was one of the reasons the region remained poor.

Tabaquero said they would eradicate the insurgency in the region but would always observe and respect the rights of civilians.(PDI)

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