LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
Does CHR condemn Kieth’s murder or the use of APMs?
FINALLY, the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed combatant, the New People’s Army, owned up to the brutal and senseless murder of a young athlete, Kieth Absalon, and his cousin Nolven. There is simply no way for denial as the preponderance of pieces of evidence and the signature conduct of attack like the use of anti-personnel landmine point to only one source: the NPAs.
What made this murder bestial and brutal, however, is the fashion with which the two innocent boys were killed. Reports said that while the victims lay wounded from the blast of an anti-personnel mine the NPA delivered the coup de grace by shooting them close range in the head and at the back.
Keith is a star football player of Far Eastern University. His death was mourned by his alma mater and his peers. But nothing can console the parents of Keith and his cousin Nolven Absalon who are now crying for justice for their dead family members.
The CPP-NPA asked forgiveness from the Absalon family “for the error” that their combatants committed. We do not know however in what mode of justice will they take against their own men. Forgiveness comes with justice.
In retrospect, this is not the first time the NPAs committed brutal murders against innocent victims. In 2008 in Davao City, a farmer, Vicente Ferrazini was shot in cold blood by NPA’s Paking Red Partisan Brigade for a flimsy reason that the victim allowed the military to camp in his farm. Then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte denounced the killing of Ferrazini saying that the NPAs also would encamp on the same farm. The CPP/NPA announced later that they investigated the murder however said that the evidence is insufficient to warrant the maximum penalty of death.
In another ambush staged by the NPAs sometime in November 2017 in Talakag, Bukidnon, the rebels fired at a private vehicle that was following a police car killing a 4-year-old child and seriously wounding the other passengers. The NPAs apologized but nothing was heard of on what punitive action they meted to the perpetrators.
What is sad and disturbing is that in many similar incidents the Commission on Human Rights, as well as organizations that claim to champion human rights and condemn violence, are rarely heard of. If at all CHR reacts, it’s a pipsqueak. In Davao City which was once labeled as the “killing fields” in the Philippines circa the late 1970s to mid-1980s perpetrated by the CPP/NPAs, the CHR, which was created in 1987, virtually stonewalled the crimes committed by the NPAs then but conveniently include the death statistics in its scorecards for those alleged victims of extra-judicial killings.
The prejudiced of the CHR against the police and military oftentimes elicits doubts on its fairness and sense of justice. In July 2013, Sally Chua, a businesswoman from Quezon City was kidnapped but later rescued in Davao City by police operatives led by then Col. Bato dela Rosa. Three of the four kidnappers who fought it out with the law were killed. When the raw video clip that showed the dead bodies of the kidnappers in the aftermath of fighting was seen by CHR Chair Etta Rosa, she exclaimed: “...but this is murder”.
For us who have seen so many atrocities committed by the NPAs we cannot help but wonder as to whose rights and sides is the Commission working for. Anyway, even as it came late we take note of the CHR condemnation of the use of landmines which, it asserted, is prohibited under the International Humanitarian Law. It is not moreover clear whether CHR condemns the murder of Kieth and Nolven or just the use of IED.
In the case of Absalon murder, Sen. Dick Gordon, Chairman of the Senate’s Human Rights Committee exclaimed, “shocking as it is, the barbarity and impunity by which killings are perpetrated in this country have got to stop. Criminals must be punished, and justice must prevail”.
Some soundbites from a Senator who wants to defund NTF-ELCAC. Maybe this time he can muster the courage to denounce the NPA atrocities. Of course, we do not expect the Makabayan bloc to do sincerely the same.
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.