Is "Grecil" Grecil or what? Is anyone trying to inject a question as to the identity of the child casualty of the 31 March encounter in Sitio 6, Purok Simsimen, Barangay Kahayag, New Bataan, Compostela Valley, Mindanao, Philippines?

Point Number 1: The burden of proof lies on the accuser, not the accused. It is not at all up to Grecil, who is dead, to prove that she is not a rebel. She is dead. She is not anything anymore. She is dead. She cannot be made to do anything anymore.

And even if she were alive today, it is not up to the nine-year-old to prove her innocence. It is entirely upon BGen. Holganza to substantiate with incontrovertible proof this accusation that the military made that maligns Grecil's person. The law says that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Defenders of the law should know the law and live by it.

Point Number 2: An apology is not an issue here at all. It only becomes an issue when one has a guilty conscience.

It is totally possible to make an honest mistake or to suffer from foot-in-the-mouth disease in the heat of the moment. In which case, all that is required is to set the record straight. An apology in addition would be a nice touch, but it is unnecessary. What is non-negotiable is that a public statement that cannot be proven by the one stating it ought to be retracted before the public takes it as gospel truth backed by the considerable weight of one's authority and office.

Acac's article quotes Holganza as saying that he is "inclined to say na hindi ito child warrior," although he added that there is no conclusion yet on the issue.

Henaku!!! Ano ba talaga, Ser? Sinabi ni'yo na nga e, hindi mo pa sasabihin?

The military categorically stated that she was a child soldier – the 10th Civil Affairs Unit even sent out her picture labeled "child-warrior of the New People's Army." On 31 March, the 10ID CMO texted Daily Mirror that her death at the encounter proved that the NPA recruits child soldiers.

Instead of playing coy with this iwas pusoy dissembling and succeeding only in making the rest of us lose patience, why not just come out and say that as of the moment the military does not have conclusive proof that Grecil S. Buya was a child soldier, and that until it does have proof to the contrary, the military has to consider her killed in a crossfire during a legitimate encounter? There. What is so hard about that?

It would be a classy touch to say in addition that the AFP regrets the anguish caused on the grieving family and the public outrage elicited by the irresponsible statement, but if such is to be considered tantamount to an apology that the military finds so hard to give, we can do without the addendum.

Diana Lhyd Suelto's article on the 14 April 2007 Daily Mirror says Holganza imposed certain conditions on the military's impending apology for its erroneous statement on the identity of the child casualty. More iwas pusoy maneuvers. Suelto reports that before making the apology the military will look into the reported involvement of the victim's father with the rebel movement.

Commandment Number 11: Thou shalt not visit on the child the sins of the father, if indeed the father had sinned.

It is the saddest day of my life to realize that batang paslit lang ang kaya ng iba. A dead one at that.

No wonder the surveys keep returning a low public trust rating for the military. The AFP ought to rethink its strategy for winning the counterinsurgency war. In its myopic obsession with proving its gains at winning an unwinnable war as it is, it is losing ground in the arena that matters most– the confidence of the civilian populace. It is only succeeding in alienating the communities it hopes to win over.

(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail.ilagan@gmail.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)