CHR on Grecil probe: next week

The CHR regional office last week said results of the findings could be out on April 16 “at the earliest” as the team of investigators was supposed to have been sent on April 12.

But CHR regional director Alberto Sipaco said they were not able to deploy investigators to the area right away because the military reported there were still ongoing operations there.

He said he cannot just deploy personnel to avoid any untoward incident.

MindaNews visited Purok 6, Barangay Kahayag in New Bataan, where Grecil, lived and was killed, twice this month – on April 3 and during Grecil’s burial on April 10.

The military had claimed that Grecil, eldest child of Virginia Buya and Gregorio Galacio, was a “child soldier” of the New People’s Army. Grecil had just finished Grade 2 at the Simsimen Elementary School.

“They cannot expect us to do the impossible," Sipaco said in reaction to militant groups pushing for immediate probe.

“But we have already done our best. That's the best we could do given the situation," he told MindaNews Thursday.

CHR sent a three-man investigating team to New Bataan only on April 17, 17 days after Grecil was killed in a military encounter.

Lack of transportation was also cited as a problem. He said they only had one roadworthy vehicle that had already been assigned to be used for earlier scheduled trips.

Sipaco revealed off the record some initial findings but said the facts will come out "the latest next week"

Sipaco said the team sent to New Bataan was led by CHR chief investigator Emiliano Cajes.

Cajes told MindaNews that among the remaining angles of the probe is an after battle report from the military.

He said the biggest problem in their investigation is "uncooperative witnesses" who refuse to execute affidavits for fear of risking their lives.

Gabriela Women's Party-list (GWP) picketed  the CHR office Thursday urging CHR to expedite investigation on Grecil's case.

"We urge the CHR to fast track its investigation regarding this case as it highlights the prevalence of a policy within the organization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the basic rights of the children, especially those in highly militarized areas," Prof. Luviminda Ilagan, Gabriela national chair said in a press release.

The group said any delay of processes in seeking justice for all the victims is alarming as another violation is yet to be expected once the assassins remain unpunished.

Human rights groups led the National Interfaith Psychosocial First-Aid Mission to probe Grecil's death on April 14, three days before the CHR went there, and topping its recommendation was for Grecil’s body to be exhumed for autopsy.