26 April 2007
WITH GEN. HOLGANZA’S PRE-JUDGEMENT
GRECIL’S FAMILY FEARS JUSTICE WILL BE DENIED
Hopes for an honest and independent investigation regarding the killing of 9-year old Grecil Buya, were dashed by Army Brig. Gen. Carlos Holganza’s statement that virtually exonerated the government troops responsible for her death. Buya was branded as a “child soldier” by the members 28th IB and 67th IB who were accused of indiscriminately firing at the house, killing Grecil. Holganza said the military would not claim accountability for her death because she was allegedly killed in crossfire.
“The investigation we are demanding will establish the weight of the military’s accountability. Fact is, a 9-year old girl is dead and the bullet that ended her bright future came from the military’s side. If only for that, they should be held accountable,” said Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns.
The group is also calling for an autopsy to be done by an independent forensic expert. “With the recent turnaround of the military from its previous statement that brazenly, recklessly and falsely accused Grecil of being a “child soldier” to a more tongue in cheek statement that she was caught in the crossfire, the military has already proven that they are not inclined to know that truth at all. This is why an independent autopsy is needed,” Rivera added.
Rivera also said that the immediate statement released by the military that Grecil was a “child soldier” further established their guilt. “They are sending the message that it is okay to kill a 9-year old girl because she is a member of the New People’s Army without having proving so.”
Gregorio Galacio, Grecil’s father denied that he was not cooperating with the military investigation. “Sobra tulo ka oras ako ginakuwestiyon sa military bag-o ko nila gitugutan nga makuha ang lawas sa akong anak nga gibilad nila sa init sa araw atubangan sa PNP station didto sa amo-a. Mao ba ang wala nag-kooperar?” Galacio said. (For over three hours, I was questioned by the military before they even allowed me to claim the body of my daughter who was exposed to the heat of the sun in front of the PNP station in our place. Is this what they call non-cooperation?”)
He also dismissed Holganza’s statement that the family was forum-shopping. “The family is seeking justice for the death of their eldest child. This is a very good form of psychological coping for victims. And with the current atmosphere of intimidation Gen. Holganza’s statement has created, it is but appropriate that the family ensures that justice will be done.”
Gen. Holganza’s threat to file charges of rebellion and illegal possession of firearms to Gregorio should the family decide to file charges against the military, has made them fear for their lives and their children’s security. “Tablahon kuno nila ako kung magkaso mi. Nabalaka mi kay karon ako na pod ang gihimo nilang NPA kuno,” Galacio added. (They will get back at me should we decide to file charges. We are worried because now I they are accusing me of being an NPA.)
The CRC and Salinlahi, together with Karapatan Alliance for Human Rights are set to accompany the family tomorrow at the Ombudsman to file administrative charges against 2nd Lt. Francis John Gabawa, platoon commanding officer and other military personnel involved in the incident. “We will continue to help them in their quest for justice. We want to reiterate the message that killing children deserves punishment,” Rivera concluded. ###