Burying the enemy: what are the rules?

The 11 were among the 18 casualties when suspected NPA rebels attacked a detachment of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU). 

Four of at least 15 members of the Civilian Armed Auxiliaries (CAAs) were killed while three others were wounded. Also killed in the attack were three civilians — a woman and her seven-year-old daughter and a village councilman.

Flores said as of late afternoon on April 1 that the bodies were prepared for possible claimants at the CAFGU detachment in Zamboanguita but no one came to claim.

The slain rebels had not been identified. 

Flores said in a radio interview that volunteers in the barangay dug a grave for a mass burial. She said bodies were not placed in coffins anymore because the corpses had begun to emit foul odor so there was no time left. 

Lt. Col. Cresente Maligmat, commanding officer of the 29th Infantry Battalion, told radio station DXDB today that the bodies were buried at a mass grave past 4 p.m. of April 1.

The rebels were killed around noon a day earlier.

Maligmat said local government officials decided on the burial. "The mayor was there and the barangay officials," he said, adding the bodies of the slain rebels were blessed by a priest before the burial at a mass grave in the Zamboanguita cemetery.

Maligmat did not reply to a query why the bodies were not brought to the nearest funeral parlor. The barangay has no funeral parlor.

But Mayor Florencio Flores, Jr. told MindaNews it was the military that suggested that the bodies be buried due to the smell. 

The Comprehensive
Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the government and the National Democratic Front provided for the provision of decent burials to slain personnel of the opposite party. 

Among the acts prohibited by the CARHRIHL, signed on March 16, 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands, is the “desecration of the remains of those who have died in the course of the armed conflict or while under detention, and breach of duty to tender immediately such remains to their families or to give them decent burial.”

The CARHRIHL is supposedly the first comprehensive agreement in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations between the NDF and the GRP, according to the philippinerevolution.net website.

Meanwhile, the families of the four slain CAFGU members and three civilians, Flores said, have attended to their wake with the “usual” assistance of the city government on burial and other needs of the family. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)