CHR: Grecil no child soldier but “caught in crossfire”?

The CHR, in its report on the results of its investigation on the death of the nine-year-old child from New Bataan in Compostela Valley, said Grecil died “in a crossfire” of a “legitimate encounter.”

CHR regional director Alberto Sipaco revealed to MindaNews the result of the investigation today (Wednesday) during the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting at the Grand Men Seng Hotel here, some two months Grecil’s death on March 31.

MindaNews has yet to get a copy of the investigation report, which the CHR first promised to release on April 16.

Grecil just finished Grade 2 when killed during an encounter between government forces and the NPA mid-morning of March 31. Initial military reports tagged her as a “child soldier” of the NPA, an allegation her parents, Virginia Buya and Gregorio Galacio (they are unmarried, so Grecil carried her mother’s last name), and villagers deny. The military suspected Galacio as a member of the NPA.

Grecil was hit on the left side of her head; she also sustained a bullet wound on her right elbow. She was buried at the public cemetery of New Bataan on April 10.

Last month, human rights groups called for the exhumation of her body for an autopsy.

On April 19, Sipaco told MindaNews they were not able to deploy investigators to the area right away because the military reported there were still ongoing operations there, among the reasons the CHR investigation was delayed.

CHR sent a three-man team to New Bataan only on April 17, citing lack of transportation as yet another reason for the delay.

Sipaco said the team sent to New Bataan was led by CHR chief investigator Emiliano Cajes, who told MindaNews recently that an after battle report from the military was among the remaining angles of the probe as of last month.

Cajes cited “uncooperative witnesses” as the hardest problem in the investigation.